Technological innovations have significantly impacted our lives. From streaming data in real-time without sacrificing privacy, to managing employee workflows and customer relationships, digital technology has improved the speed, security, and coordination of work across industries, and few accomplish those feats better than the companies that make up Big Tech.
In recent years, we’ve seen a trend of Big Tech companies like Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft setting their sights on healthcare as the next frontier for technological improvements.
According to Apple CEO Tim Cook, “if you zoom out into the future, and you look back, and you ask the questions, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will be about health.”¹
Cook’s perspective is shared by others. Alphabet, Google’s parent company, established a subsidiary that seeks to “map human health” by collecting data from participants’ wearable watches.² In addition to pursuing research and developing various health devices and apps, many tech giants have been steadily acquiring and partnering with healthcare companies to further expand their ventures into the space.
Despite their success with forays into diverse industries, many of Big Tech’s attempts to apply their computer-enabled, customer-focused philosophies to healthcare have been underwhelming. For example, both Microsoft HealthVault and Google Health have been shut down after attempts to store medical records and gather patient health information were unsuccessful.
According to Kencor Health’s Product Lead Munawar Peringadi Vayalil, many of these tech giants are attempting to improve or solve one of three problems: the accessibility of care, the patient experience, and physician time constraints. Each of these problems significantly impact patient health outcomes, but the problems themselves are a product of the US healthcare system.
Differential access to care, for example, is driven by such factors as the cost of care, a lack of insurance coverage, geographical location, and more. Though some of these conditions, like living in an isolated area with few physicians, can be ameliorated with remote technologies, technology alone cannot solve the accessibility of care problem without addressing the inequities that lead to disparities between access to healthcare. Consider Apple Watch’s Cardiogram feature, for example, which is used to collect heart data for research purposes. It is only used by a subset of those who can afford the $400 minimum for the watch. As such, the majority of people who use the feature have health insurance, are middle-aged, and upper-middle class.³ Though Apple’s stated goals are to democratize health, the cost of participation actually perpetuates healthcare inequity by further excluding marginalized groups. This emerges as a consequence of prioritizing the innovative technology without addressing who can access that technology in the first place.
Likewise, technological solutions for patient experience often fail to accommodate the complex nature of our healthcare system. Google Health’s attempt to consolidate patient medical information in one place was intended to improve patient experience, but required that patients gather medical information from various sources.⁴ The disconnected nature of care makes documentation, and the tracking of that documentation, even more arduous. It is for this very reason that consolidating patient information into one place is appealing. However, if patients were able to easily gather that information from various sources like hospitals, clinics, insurance providers, and so on, it would negate the need for Google Health in the first place. Their proposed solution, though technically useful, didn’t account for the challenges of an uncoordinated system.
The lack of physician time is an issue that further exacerbates poor patient experiences and inaccessible care. One factor that contributes to the lack of time physicians have for patients is administrative inefficiency. Care teams and patients both report spending significant amounts of time on billing and insurance claims.⁵ Administration is incredibly time consuming due to the documentation needs of various actors involved in the healthcare system, from insurance providers to clinic operators, and the necessary privacy measures for documenting and sharing patient data. Tech solutions that aim to increase the time physicians have with their patients often add to the administrative workflows already present in day to day operations by providing yet another tool or system to manage. It is for that reason that the team at Kencor incorporated patient management, billing, and data into one consolidated place for both care teams and patients to access. Kencor’s RPM solution would not have been successful without addressing the ways healthcare operates in US clinics and hospitals.
In other words, solving health problems is not just a matter of understanding human health, it requires extensive understanding of and appreciation for the healthcare system. This is a system that is made incredibly complex by compounding logistical, legal, and economic parameters, which should not be taken for granted in efforts to innovate healthcare landscapes with technology.
At Kencor, we’ve taken a care-first approach that is supported by great technology. We work directly with physicians, nurses, and health clinics to ensure that our technical solutions are addressing the needs of patients while taking into account broader conditions like the disparate nature of health information, patient data privacy, and the lack of physician time.
Our team has over 140 collective years in the healthcare industry. That, combined with our technical expertise, has enabled us to develop a platform that not only addresses technical possibilities for exceptional Remote Patient Monitoring, but also addresses the systemic concerns implicated in the existing healthcare system.