The United States isn’t shy about its healthcare expenditures, spending more on healthcare per person than any other country in the world. Wasteful healthcare spending accounts for 30 percent of the $3.2 trillion spent on healthcare each year, resulting in nearly $10 billion in waste annually.
BIP Capital has been intensely focused on the healthcare technology industry for a number of years. We’ve successfully executed several portfolio company exits in this sector, including Aspirion Health Resources which offers solutions to help mitigate the average $8.6 billion spent on claims-related administrative costs annually. We also exited REACH Health, a provider of telemedicine solutions for any medical specialty or care setting, last month. Other companies in our portfolio like PriorAuthNow are disrupting the healthcare industry by dramatically reducing inefficiencies and costs in traditional healthcare-related processes.
Moving forward, I anticipate even more healthcare technology solutions to capture our attention and resources. Below are two areas where I see considerable potential:
Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare is experiencing exponential growth. To that end, a 2016 study by Frost & Sullivan projects the market for healthcare AI to reach $6.6 billion by 2021. And, with healthcare AI expected to create $150 billion in annual cost-savings for the healthcare economy by 2026, there’s ample opportunity for AI apps to take hold.
AI for Automated Image Diagnosis
Automated image diagnosis is sure to be an area of focus in the near future, with the goal being to streamline the provision of a correct preliminary diagnosis for a patient. There are already several examples of AI aiding in medical image diagnoses through improved readings of CT scans, MRIs, X-rays or images to better identify heart problems as well as lung, skin and other cancers and irregularities. Partners HealthCare, a non-profit hospital and physicians network, is leading the charge in this area.
AI for Virtual Nursing Assistants
With advancements in operating room procedures, you’ll soon start seeing more patients being able to recover at home rather than in an acute care setting. And, in many of these situations, a virtual nursing assistant will be linked to them for regular, remote monitoring and symptom triage. Some companies already providing such tools include Sensely and PatientSafe Solutions.
Virtual nursing assistants with AI could handle many of the patient’s medical needs, potentially in a timelier manner, while a family member or worker from a home healthcare agency could still fill in the gaps for things like personal hygiene tasks that the patient cannot do alone.
Eliminating Dosage Errors
Each year, approximately 1.3 million people are harmed in the United States from medication errors. Aside from causing potentially adverse outcomes in patients, including death, dosage errors are costly to the healthcare industry in other ways. Future technology will likely focus on providing real-time information and accountability for a patient’s medication dosages. As one example, when a provider is prescribing medication at the bedside, the technology can ensure that both the type of medication and dosage coincides correctly with the patient’s condition and can be used with other medications he or she is currently being prescribed.
By reducing the dosage error rates, technology could save the healthcare industry billions of dollars as well as prevent potentially grave adverse outcomes.
Healthcare is in the midst of a transformation as it shifts toward value-based care. With increasingly greater emphasis now being placed on care quality, patient satisfaction and cost-saving initiatives, there are numerous areas where healthcare technology can disrupt the industry to provide tangible, value-added benefits. Healthcare will always require a high degree of human skill and level of personal touch, but technology on the near horizon is likely to make the experience more efficient and effective for everyone involved.