Aug 19th, 2019
New Digital Doors to HealthCare that Are Ethical, Human-centric, and Inspired by Lifelong Wellness
Jeff Dean, Google Senior Fellow in Artificial Intelligence at Google
Sangita Reddy, Chair of the Apollo Health City
Frans van Houten, CEO, Royal Philips
When discussions on healthcare include AI (artificial intelligence) and machine learning; many people raise their guard and advocate immediately for protecting our healthcare information from exploitation. As someone also concerned with cyber-security issues around digital financial, health, and personal information; I can relate to this fear. And that said, I am inspired by the incredible advances in lifelong wellness that are possible when—as Frans van Houten, CEO of Royal Philips, says- vast amounts of health data are unlocked and available for AI analysis and machine learning.
Essentially, when health data- anonymously labeled, are entered into a database and queried for certain conditions and analyzed for particular correlations; new health information arises that could benefit the entire health community. How? Unique profiles and patterns of health can be identified, cause-effect relationships between pre-conditions and disease can be more robustly defined with higher confidence intervals—when given more, relevant, high quality data.
Thus, more high quality data actually helps lead to disease prevention, so we can create a positive feedback loop to the healthcare community when more people contribute to the database. So, the first question becomes: Does sharing healthcare data with our providers in a digitally-accessible, secure (heavily encrypted) environment with specific conditions on who has access to this information (e.g. just our personal physicians, healthcare providers, and families) catalyze greater health in society?
Does building a robust health database allow the healthcare community to shift roles from curative care providers to lifelong partners on the journey toward greater health and wellness?
The next question for me is: How does creating digital health identities for individuals and a digital platform for exchange between healthcare providers and patients open up “tele-medicine” opportunities for those who have not been able to access healthcare in the past?
This is NOT a small issue. In the US alone, 44 million people have no health insurance, and another 38 million people have inadequate health insurance. (PBS, Healthcare Crisis, 2019) Globally, 3.5 billion people (50% of the world’s population in 2017) do not have access to basic healthcare. (WHO, 12/2017) True, many of these people do not have access to the internet as well…so we have to solve a two-pronged problem.
But let’s imagine that as Houlin Zhao, Secretary General of ITU (the International Telecomunication Union) suggested in another NIW interview that we can cover the other 50% in the next decade — then all of the sudden digital healthcare and tele-medicine opens up for the entire world.
At the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum, healthcare and technology designed for global good was a hot topic of discussion…. and remains important in the global dialogue. I was fortunate to have interviewed these leading voices, advocating for opening: “New Digital Doors to HealthCare that Are Ethical, Human-centric, and Inspired by Lifelong Wellness”.