The future of healthcare: affordable lifesaving innovation
We’re in the midst of a technological revolution and a few innovative people are currently developing tools and techniques that will save millions of lives. A new breed of frugal innovator is coming up with solutions to some of the world’s major health problems. It’s a great time to be alive.
Some, like Devi Shetty, specialise in creating low cost alternatives to established treatments. Shetty has devised a cheaper way of performing open-heart surgery on an industrial scale. The family hospital where Shetty works now performs hundreds of basic operations each month costing between $2,000 and $5,000 per operation. Not free by any means but it is within the reach of people who otherwise couldn’t afford it, and for who the alternatives are unthinkable.
Future healthcare models are increasingly based around lean, low cost and high quality systems. Social networks will be used to support people in managing their health.
In Mexico city, a team of paramedics and doctors sit answering phones for a company called MedicallHome, ready to diagnose conditions following strict protocols. It’s the basis of a primary healthcare system that around one million households in the country use as a first line of defence. It costs them just $5 a month and almost two thirds of the issues are resolved over the phone. It also negotiates discounts on medicines, as it is able to buy in bulk. Using this system, five million people now have access to healthcare with a staff team of just 90 medical professionals.
Using digital technology and social media, it seems it is possible to provide low cost healthcare at a good price. By sharing knowledge and skills more effectively, it is possible to save millions of lives and open up healthcare to people who have been living without it previously.
The combination of people and technology is carving out a new path. However, this is not to say that traditional healthcare services are no longer necessary. These innovative solutions are plugging gaps rather than providing a genuine alternative to a comprehensive healthcare network. It is still necessary to have the preventative measures, such as check ups, as well as key medical equipment to prevent accidents.
It’s a brave new world out there. Let’s hope it works.