VentureBeat has reported that CVS may buy Aetna, and Amazon has begun acquiring pharmacy licenses. While Amazon’s existing licenses cover healthcare equipment only, it is expected that they will eventually seek ones that allow dispensing of medications. Amazon thus stands to add pharmaceuticals to the many industries threatened by its massive reach. This could be a force for better innovation in a sector dogged by inefficiency. Accordingly, the move by CVS would allow it to be a single stop with insurance coverage, on-site clinics, and pharmacies.
TechCrunch notes that the United States spends three times as much on healthcare per person as other developed countries, yet it does not achieve commensurate outcomes. This points to massive inefficiency in its healthcare system. The full potential of technology to make healthcare more efficient has been left untapped due to many entrepreneurs not understanding the industry and preferring to avoid its politics. In fact, it is common for entrepreneurs who do enter
healthcare to have a personal reason, such as a sick relative, for doing so.
Some of the most glaring inefficiencies are along the lines of maintaining and tracking patient records and outcomes, coordinating care, optimizing care delivery, and ensuring provider accountability. These are problems that would seem readily amenable to technological solutions. For example, software could be developed to allow hospitals to direct their referrals of post-acute patients to skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities that are best at preventing readmission.
In the relatively bleak world of healthcare entrepreneurship, Drew Madden has emerged as a bright spot. Madden, who holds a degree in industrial engineering with a focus in medical systems, describes himself as “passionate about electronic medical records.” He is a healthcare information technology (IT) entrepreneur and a current managing partner and former president at Evergreen Healthcare Partners.
Many experts. like Madden, predict the use of artificial intelligence to create a diagnostic tool that synthesizes information from “medical journal articles, textbooks, and patient interviews.” Also, he envisions devices known as point-of-care diagnostics. These technologies would allow for non-invasive home diagnosis and remote treatment.