From catching a taxi to finding a date, technology has swept industries off their feet and integrated itself into our everyday usage. However, healthcare, arguably the most important public institution, seems to have been somewhat left behind. Karalee Close is a passionate believer in a future healthcare system that makes use of the technology and data that we have at our disposal.
Having lost her grandmother at 16 due to misinformed surgery, Karalee’s conviction on the importance of data and its implemented use has been a driving force in her career. With literally thousands of applications created in the field, there is a vast landscape of knowledge available. Though somehow it is not yet connected to the greater scheme of healthcare.
The potential impact that current technologies could bring upon the industry is very exciting. With technologies such as 3D printing we can see organs and bones being replaced. However, Karalee emphasises that the real advancement will come from data, changing the way the healthcare system functions, benefiting individuals on a very personal level. Imagine if information and reviews of clinics for your specific needs was as readily available as it is for restaurants in your area or local taxi drivers. The efficiency of the healthcare system would benefit enormously.
Kaiser Permanente is a group of hospitals in California known for their efficient use of data. Through the analysation of their client records, they found that giving a heart-attack patient a particular drug within 24 hours of the attack cut the death rate by 50%. This drug was already on the market, however the direct impact in clinical practice was unknown. This is just one example of how the correct use of electronic records can make leaps in the world of medicine and pharmaceuticals.
Karalee sees a future in which, not only is existing data collected and used to develop healthcare, but a whole new facet of knowledge and data will appear. She sees us video-chatting with our doctors and uploading information over our smartphones to help with diagnoses, maybe even in the form of a selfie. With such ease of access, even those in remote areas will stay connected with immediate, direct information.
With widely spread, personalised and instantly accessible healthcare information, Karalee hopes patients will be spending a lot less time in hospitals. But still the question remains; will healthcare embrace digital or will we die waiting?
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