It’s funny how the more global things become, the more local it is as well.
This is especially true in the field of healthcare and over the next decade we will see astonishing changes which will see care change like it never has before.
I’m a big fan of the Wayne Gretzky quote to “always skate to where the puck is going”. So let’s take a look at this in the light of changes in technology and capability.
As you can see from the two videos embedded here, there are radical changes coming in the form of ultrasound technology. Five years ago and ultrasound machine weighed several hundred pounds, cost several hundreds of thousands of dollars and could only be operated in an extremely low resolution by trained professionals.
Today, prices are dropping dramatically while capabilities are increasing exponentially. From the video, it’s possible today to use a pen like device to literally look into your own heart valves, knee joints, look for cancer etc. While we may not have the necessary expertise to be able to diagnose everything, the reality of HD videoconferencing will soon mean that the eight months wait to have someone look at that problem hip may be literally reduced to hours.
All arguments with regards to who pays for healthcare aside – practicality usually reigns in these types of situations. eg. If you are self-employed and it’s going to take 14 months to have your knee fixed before you can go back to work again, chances are once you have the capability, you’ll take things into your own hands.
So let’s put two and two together. We can see from the two videos included here that personal pen type high-resolution imaging devices are just around the corner. It’s likely we will see them for a few hundred dollars on eBay within the next 2 to 3 years.
Just imagine a service where a company from India will courier you one overnight via FedEx. Then do a next day diagnosis with a trained medical professional live over the Internet right from your home. Then once diagnosed quote you on the cost of the operation and travel the very next day.
I’m guessing that within five years we will be able to get very personally involved in our own care. When you are able to get immediate professional medical care right from your own home, it’s not a large leap to rationally decide the options of:
a) Waiting out the 14 months for the local knee surgery (while losing $40,000 in income from not working over that time)
b) Spending $10,000 – $20,000 to fly down to the states for the procedure
c) Going to India for the surgery including two weeks of high-quality medical care and a trip to the Taj Mahal thrown in – all for $5000