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As health care digitizes, consumer technologies will have greatest impact, says panel

Fred O'Connor | Sept. 19, 2014
The health care industry has long been a laggard in adopting technology, but that will soon change as the challenge of aligning doctors, insurance companies and patients is figured out.

And with the "Internet of things" placing sensors in cars, homes and on bodies, among other places, health care data will include more personal information and become more consumer driven.

"The home will become a major part of our health care," said Stokes.

The greatest health IT innovations will come from consumer products, like the recently announced Apple Watch, and products containing sensors, instead of more industrial products like implants, Bain Capital's Gordon said.

Apple Watch will get scores of people to wear a health monitor, Stokes said, and "if you get a million people to wear it, that can be meaningful."

The challenge is getting consumers to pay for health care, Gordon said. People have no issues paying for cable, but scoff at the cost of a health insurance co-pay and may dismiss purchasing expensive consumer devices if they can't see their benefit.

"For a consumer innovation to break through, it has to be interesting enough for people to buy it," Gordon said.

Government rules controlling the sharing of health care information may require a revamp as care becomes more centered around the people being able to share their data with others, said Gordon.

"We have to have legislative framework in place to get that [data] to consumers," he said, adding that he sometimes thinks this is unachievable.

When people are allowed easy access to their data, future health care will place the individual in control of their health, Goel said. The information generated from a doctor's visit, and the data analysis around it, will be accessible from a patient's mobile device, she said. This will allow more personalized care options instead of the current model that dispenses care by visiting doctors in a way akin to an assembly line.


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