Personalization of healthcare

Updated: Oct 20, 2019

When everything else in life is being personalized, how can healthcare not be? But then it is not as simple as personalizing for a commercial environment, is it?

Individual or patient centric healthcare will look a lot different than disease driven one

At least half of the world’s population cannot obtain essential health services, and large numbers of households are pushed into poverty every year because they have to pay for health care out of their own pockets, according to a report published in late 2017 by the World Bank and the World Health Organization. About 800 million people spend at least 10% of their household budgets on health expenses, according to the report, and for nearly one in eight of those people the expenses are high enough to push them into extreme poverty - defined as living on just $1.90 or less a day. Physical environments can dictate diverse healthcare needs that change over time, while population trends related to demographics, disparities, and culture can shape system access, regulation, and utilization. Ageing populations in Europe, Japan, and the US, for example, are re-shaping healthcare systems. According to a review of Japan’s health system published by the WHO in 2018, Japan’s “demographic dilemma” requires drastic reform of healthcare and long-term-care systems; health expenditures for those aged 65 and above in Japan is 4.3 times higher than for other age groups, according to the report, and the majority of costs are being covered by the working class population through taxes and medical insurance premiums.

Everyone knows that the illustration to the left is that of a human heart. It is a muscular organ which pumps blood through the blood vessels of the circulatory system. Blood provides the body with oxygen and nutrients, and also assists in the removal of metabolic wastes. Essentially once the heart stops beating, the person is no longer alive. If we could understand this from a human anatomy's perspective, would it be difficult to understand that the Digital Health Record (DHR) is the heart of the Healthcare Ecosystem? Could it be beyond the intelligence of Practicing Healthcare Professionals and Administrators to see the similarity and realize that that the DHR is what will keep the ecosystem alive and without its apparent functioning the ecosystem might as well be dead?

Is there Trust in the Healthcare Ecosystem Anywhere on this Planet?

In the January 2016 McKinsey Quarterly article titled how Healthcare Systems can become Digital Leaders (, authors Gerardo Aue, Stefan Biesdorf and Nicolaus Henke argue that the potential of digitization is well understood, yet healthcare systems are struggling to convert ambition into reality.

Even before we get to the digitization part there is a deeper malaise that the healthcare system needs to address. That of moving away from the Personal to a purely Professional interaction. Nothing wrong with that. As societies have evolved Decay & Disease have grown more than Life & Health. Relationships have moved from Personal to Institutional and Professionalism in Healthcare has become Commercial in its approach just as much as all other aspects of life that have dealt with growing numbers of mass. Having considered that isn't it ironical to ask the following questions:

  1. What prevented the Transactional and Innovation Ecosystems globally to collaborate that could have witnessed more proactive approach to the Science of Health rather than Medicine?

  2. Is this discord between Public and Private Healthcare more dangerous than the Terrorism we are witnessed to as a society globally?

  3. Why do Physicians continue playing God when they have decided to move away from that position of unconditional trust to just doing a job?

Who should pay for digital-health applications and services?

It all boils down to the above question. Healthcare like every other aspect of life is being disrupted by the Digital Revolution. Health Technologies (IOT) are proliferating and gaining traction to various levels of maturity. But like all things commercial they are in no way connected to the Medical Technology and the associated Information Technology. The reason for that is very simple. There are different commercial angles for getting the same individual to pay but nobody wants to handle the responsibility of making their product useful to the Quality of Lives of the individuals. For the first time in human history there is a way of recording the Body Vitals, Performance and Emotional Response from the time of the birth till the death of an individual. Integrating this Health with Medical and Information Technology (Essentially Data) will allow Healthcare to be more Responsive and Preventive.

The first principle of Digital Economy is Intelligent Transaction Processing. Every stakeholder in the Healthcare Ecosystem starting from the Individuals to the Professionals must be unified in a common process and collaborate intelligently with each other in Real Time. Each one of them is benefiting from such an intelligent exchange and therefore they must pay for it.

In our interactions with the healthcare industry professionals and even VC's and PE's who are pumping money into this sector the attitude is one of apathy. They believe the window of time to milk the society and continue making money with the older generation methods in this new digital economy is still open. An ignorant and indifferent society does not help. Conventionally all optimization and refinement of the healthcare systems has come from the Payor perspective; where the payor is identified as the Insurance company in developed economies. In the developing economies like India there is very little respect for the Individual Payor in the specific context of healthcare industry; as restoring them to health is almost considered a favor by both Professionals and Institutions alike.

The real problem with Healthcare is Capacity globally
Cause of death - WHO stats

This is Revolutionary Call. Individuals should know that they are getting a raw deal at the end of the bargain.

  1. Whether an individual is rich or poor, educated or uneducated, urban or rural, living in a developed or a developing economy, funded by the government or themselves, they are the ones paying for their health care directly or indirectly; both with their money and their lives.

  2. Unless the Individuals take up the accountability and responsibility for their health, the healthcare industry ecosystem will not rise out of its stupor. They have to not only raise the rebellion for greater level of Compliance with respect to Governance, Compliance and Risk Assurance but also seek a transparent and uniformly collaborative process across healthcare professionals and institutions. The industry has a vested commercial interest in not doing so.

  3. The above can be achieved only when the Individuals own their health record. They must bring in the discipline to manage their health as a process; thereby recording data for all life events and creating a record that can then be used as the basis for the Professionals to operate their Practice Management Process and the Institutions to operate their Care Management Process.

Digital Healthcare has come of age. The industry is ripe for democratization. The Millennial Professionals are happy to bring in a work ethic that give allows them not only to earn money but also to create wealth in the society. In every other aspect of life, Science is leading Technology. Let Healthcare not be an exception.

Schedule a dialog by writing to for a deeper dive on the subject if you are keen to make an impact on the global healthcare transformation.

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