This new technology is from the forthcoming book Medicine 2025: How a Digital Earth Protects Everyone
- See the new Paris Tech Review article, 2025: How would a Digital Earth deal with Ebola?
- See also Experience 5: Deliver digital MAS (Medicine as a Service) to anyone
If a huge leap is possible with new digital technology, today’s health and humanitarian sectors have not been able to conceive it, much less build it. The health sector is so focused on the patients in front of them, and the humanitarian sector is so stretched by the immediate needs they are trying to meet, that neither has the time, resources or visionary will for this overwhelming task.
On medicine’s high-tech front, those who create a new digital medical technology have a narrow focus. This makes sense because each invention, product and service requires focused attention to develop it successfully throughout the complex journey from idea through medical success. Healthcare markets can monetize individual inventions by turning each into a product or service with its own revenue stream.
In contrast, today’s commercial markets do not attempt to improve the entire medical system because its issues go far beyond a single medical product or service. The medical system’s issues include difficult simultaneous factors from areas like funding/payment, public health management, legal/regulatory barriers, insurance industry integration, local facilities management, medical staff engagement, healthcare delivery, outcome tracking, problem identification and quality improvements.
It’s no wonder digital innovators focus on comparatively rapid advances from narrower vertical advances such as:
- Add a middle section with many examples from sources like:
- the Indian tablet,
- Mayo Clinic’s MyCare cardiac surgery patient recovery app,
- IBM Watson as a healthcare AI,
- Examples of portable medical tech with lower staff and infrastructure costs: In home dialysis (DaVita) / In home monitoring (NxStage) / In home diagnosis (Up to Date) / Portable IR / Portable Defibralator (Philips Healthcare) / In home testing (T2 Biosystems),
- examples from Science articles,
As these become known technologies they face a well known problem: How to deliver known technology at scale, to those who need it worldwide. The most frequently mentioned examples are century-old know-how for producing safe drinking water and toilets. Today 748 million people don’t have safe drinking water, 1 billion practice open defecation, and 2.5 billion need basic sanitation. (304) Over 50% of these people live in middle-income countries. (304) This is a life and death problem. Diarrheal disease, which directly relates to clean water and sanitation, caused around 1.5 million child deaths in 2009. More children died from diarrheal diseases than malaria, measles and AIDS combined. (305)
Something big is missing, how to deliver known technology universally. Today’s new digital option was described in a special issue of Science Magazine that focused on “Global health: What works.” A paper by Mehl and Labrique (302) introduced a framework that could be used to combine different kinds of innovations in mHealth (the use of mobile wireless technologies in health systems and processes). The authors argued that decades of falling costs and rising capabilities in telecommunications have produced simple phones that can connect with complex digital systems, with the potential to transform healthcare for entire LMIC (Low and Middle Income Country) populations. They argued that this was not producing transformative advances because current mHealth advances are vertical and limited to single problems. They suggest harmonizing both new and needed innovations to develop an entire integrated, evidence-based mHealth system that can be applied in the real world with replicable quality and efficiency, used to optimize public health systems, and then be adopted as a global standard. (302)
This need for a large digital leap parallels the observation by Google founder Larry Page at the 2010 Summer session of Singularity University (306) “You look for people who are trying to make things a lot better, not just a little better but a lot better. And it’s actually really hard to find those people.”
The transformations in Example 5 add a buildable and testable design for the infectious and communicable diseases parts of this missing worldwide need. This only partially addresses the widely discussed “epidemiological transition” to non-communicable diseases (such as cardiac disease, diabetes and cancer), injuries and violence that are well advanced in high-income countries and under way in low- and middle-income countries. (307)
Example 5 encompasses the familiar life cycles of innovation and product launch / management:
- How do we conceive, design and build a new kind of Digital Medical Infrastructure?
- How could digital healthcare delivery systems work?
- How could we use evidence-based measurements and continuous improvements-based management so Digital Medical Centers evolve into mass delivery systems that are consistently effective and efficient across multiple populations, cultures and medical problems?
- How do we build widespread access to these new Digital Medical Centers so they are used heavily and produce effective mass healthcare at low cost?
Unfortunately, governments and international health system organizations demonstrate that they are best at perpetuating existing healthcare systems. Today’s individual digital advances in products and services improve each of their vertical areas, but show a similar absence of leadership in transforming today’s medical system.
Where can we turn when governments are not innovative enough to solve this, when markets don’t have the product or service categories to create and profit from this, when consumers and patients don’t have scale to drive this? While academics and research scientists have described this need they are controlled by funders and peers so they must take one small step at a time, prove each step in peer reviewed research, and take decades to evolve a solution that is likely to be eclipsed by new advances by the time it reaches the market.
The billions of people who are outside the healthcare system can’t wait on all of these participants. They don’t have the medical healthcare they need, and millions die every year.
One transformative option is the kind of conscious technology design described in Example 5, “Delivering Digital Medicine to Anyone Worldwide,” which envisions a buildable Digital Medical Infrastructure.
A possible next step is to see if there are one or more participants that want to own and drive this advance.
If this could be produced, it might be our generation’s most important healthcare advance. As another article in the Science Magazine special issue on Global Health put this, “The opportunity to innovate and drive convergence to a common health and healthcare platform is the challenge for the 21st century.” (303)
A new Digital Medical Infrastructure (DMI)
Today’s dominant medical infrastructure is a platform that has three main tracks. The affluent first world is dominant. Medically, these societies are generally healthier and longer-lived than in previous generations. Today’s medical system is evolving from medicine to health, with treatment progressing from systematic medical care to personalized genomic medicine.
Second, the developing world copies the first world’s medical system. Its medical infrastructure provides steadily improving medical care that includes treating infectious diseases, but remains behind on advanced medical technologies.
Last, the “poor world” includes billions of people who live in slums and “third world” societies like Sub-Saharan Africa. They lack sufficient medical professionals and services. As a result, these people live with diseases and early death — which helps perpetuate poverty into the next generation.
In the same way that developing nations could skip telephone land lines and go directly to mobile phones, a new Digital Medical Infrastructure (DMI) could go into use in communities that are too poor to be served by a first world medical system. In these poor communities, new digital medical systems might evolve to meet the needs of the poor who are currently left out and left behind.
This reveals the heart of the future described in this book: If there is a way for everyone to win, that is the goal of the Expandiverse Technology behind this book’s illustration of a fully Digital Earth.
In our winner-take-all era, could there be a “Digital Earth Platform” that helps everyone rise? If yes, what will this be? Could this include a DMI (Digital Medical Infrastructure) platform that will improve the lives of those who first world medicine doesn’t serve?
The Expandiverse was created to have the chance to deliver a global platform that is built once, run everywhere and delivers dramatic new opportunities to everyone, everywhere.
This opens the door to a new and different planet, a Digital Earth.
A multi-faceted platform has deep understanding of what people do when they use screens throughout their lives. Its “aware network” services use Active Knowledge to learn how to deliver success to everyone, everywhere.
For the economists reading this, what will it do to productivity across the economy if everyone can rise toward becoming the best, knowing how to succeed whenever that’s wanted, in anything connected that they do?
Could this become a world that systematically grows universal success, increasingly producing billions of successful and prosperous people everywhere? Could that include making them healthier, stronger and more capable — whether they start wealthy, middle class or poor?
In sum, leading companies need a major global business opportunity to own an ecosystem that could serve billions of people. A global healthcare platform could be the kind of business that is incredibly valuable to the world. This could start with the disadvantaged and grow to serve growing numbers in every country. That world leadership opportunity makes this worth creating and running by a major global company that wants to survive and prosper by owning one of the major platforms of a Digital Earth.
Who could do this, how and why?
The biggest story about “today’s economy” is the declining middle class and its growing inequality.
As usual, the media left out half of the story: These are perilous economic times for almost everyone.