Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 02, 2013

Technology Will Help Physicians Improve Patient Care

Despite advances in technology and science, the practice of patient care has not changed much in decades. According to Vinod Khosla, founder of  Menlo Park, Calif.-based Khosla Ventures, healthcare today is still a "practice of medicine" rather than the "science of medicine." This report by Khosla, which investigates the impact of data driven healthcare on practice of medicine, was posted on the CNNMoney site.

Studies show that the patient care is inferior and the cost is much higher than it should be. Khosla points to a Johns Hopkins study that found that as many as 40,500 patients die in an ICU in the U.S. each year due to misdiagnosis, rivaling the number of deaths from breast cancer. Another study found that system-related factors, such as poor processes, teamwork, and communication, were involved in 65 percent of studied diagnostic error cases. Likewise, Khosla reports that cognitive factors were responsible in 75 percent with premature closure as the most common cause. These types of diagnostic errors also add to rising healthcare expenditures.

“Healthcare should become more about data-driven deduction and less about trial-and-error.  In fact, the venture capitalist argues that the next-generation medicine will utilize more complex models of physiology, and more sensor data than a human MD could ever comprehend. In the future, thousands of baseline and multi-omic data points, more integrative history, and demeanor will inform each diagnosis,” wrote Khosla. “Ever-improving dialog manager systems will help make data capture and exploration from patients more accurate and comprehensive.” Data science will be the key driver of healthcare because it will reduce costs, reduce physician workloads, and improve patient care.

In essence, Khosla’s report suggests that much of what physicians do today, such as checkups, testing, diagnosis, prescription, behavior modification, etc., can be done better by sensors, passive and active data collection, and analytics. In other words, new technologies will make doctors better at their jobs – quicker, more accurate, and more fact-based.

The report indicates that such transition to automation has already begun in other sectors like flying, stock market and driving, where human judgment was once considered irreplaceable. Today, most commercial flying is done by the auto-pilot and not the captain and algorithmic trading drives most stock market volume. Similarly, self-driving cars have entered the normal streets.

Edited by Rich Steeves

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