The “Consumerization of IT” was an employee-led revolution. Personal and business technology were leveraged by the employees to improve their own productivity, forcing IT to respond to ensure corporate standards were followed and intellectual property was protected. IT played catch up because they had no choice.
Let’s take that example and consider the challenge to the US healthcare system. It is antiquated and is actively resisting the $27 billion ‘carrot’ created by the Federal Government to push modernization.
Consumerization of healthcare
With the recent reports of Apple working on an iOS-based watch, we may be at the very beginning of the next revolution, the “Consumerization of Healthcare”. There are no details about what features and capabilities the anticipated iWatch will have but rumors have it that Apple worked on fitness trackers in the past but never brought the devices to market. If the new watch delivers the ability to monitor personally activity and information like health-related data such as heart rate, sleep patterns, etc., we may be looking at the next big disruptive technology.
Disruption won’t come from the workers. Healthcare organizations may face the same challenges other organizations do with employees merging personal devices with business systems leading to the same game of catchup, but that’s not the interesting part. This next revolution will be driven by the patient wearing an iWatch.
Apple is the difference
You might counter that wearable devices for tracking fitness are already on the market from Nike, Fitbit, Jawbone and others. That’s true, but no one has the ability to deliver technology and see adoption levels like Apple. They set a new standard years ago and each of their new products enjoys that reputation.
If Apple has half the success they have had with the iPhone or iPad, the healthcare industry will be in for a huge change. Patients will have detailed information about recent and historical vital statistics and app developers will provide tools allowing patents to follow recommended treatment regiments. This will happen whether or not doctors continue relying on antiquated systems and processes.
Healthcare providers will be extremely challenged in being prepared for the technology that patients will be bringing with them, possibly strapped to their wrist and collecting data 24 x 7. When you consider that only 35 percent of doctors who work outside hospitals have system that performed at least basic functions, like ordering of prescriptions and storing doctor notes and test results, it becomes clear that the pressure on the system will be enormous. The challenges of dealing with a huge spike in the volume of data and of having proper technologies to safeguard, move, analyze and respond to that data are overwhelming to the system we have in place.
This is a new twist on consumerization but just as impactful if not more. The consumerization of healthcare may well bring more change to the system than the $27 billion in incentives the Federal Government created to push the industry to modernize.