Leading health and technology pioneers met recently in Austin, TX for FCGrill, hosted by Fast Company, to discuss the implications of a flood of medical technologies that are redefining what healthcare means. A recent Fast Company article gives insight into the timely conversation that included Direct Health (now called Direct Health) VP of Product, Jason Whitson, and other leading experts from Merck, UPMC and GE Ventures.

Digital technologies are beginning to upend and completely rethink what is possible in healthcare. In the US alone, healthcare accounts for nearly $3.3 trillion dollars in spending every year. That means that changes to medicine will have far reaching consequences beyond doctors’ walls.

New Medical Technologies Address Barriers to Treatment

A prevailing theme of FCGrill panel was how these emergent medical technologies tackle pain points of the existing healthcare system. Despite the advancements that are occurring year after year, one of the biggest problems in healthcare is simply care avoidance. Jason Whitson described how for many the barriers to getting medical treatment are just too high. Visiting a doctor is time-consuming and costly. It typically involves waiting for an appointment, traveling to the doctor’s office and taking time off work. Because of that, patients often let problems worsen. This leads to higher medical expenses in the long-run and more missed days of work.

The Direct Health app allows patients to bypass the stress that causes people to avoid going to the doctor. Patients can call, text or video chat with their doctors when they need to, from the convenience of home, work or anywhere they have access to a cell phone. In fact, the majority of doctors’ visits can be completely done on the Direct Health app because they are low-acuity issues.

In a perfect example of how Direct Health facilitates this communication between doctors and patients, Whitson detailed his recent bout of poison ivy. Because it was a straightforward condition, it could be completely diagnosed and treated on Direct Health by his doctor who was four states away.

Smarter Healthcare Technologies on the Horizon

Among the other highlights from the discussion were explorations of how medical technologies would be getting increasingly smarter. This includes a stronger reliance on genetic testing to allow treatment tailored to each patient’s body and pills that send notifications as soon as they are taken. Machine learning also has been a trending topic in the healthcare community recently. Ultimately, the panel agreed that machine learning was making impressive strides. However, its greatest benefits will lie in helping doctors perform their jobs better, not in replacing them completely.

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