Now the information revolution has begun to wane, we are seeing the next innovation wave in the form of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, so-called for the speed, scale and force at which it is transforming entire systems of production, distribution and consumption.
This revolution, like the ones that came before, brings with it concerns, hurdles and inadvertent consequences. One big challenge is ensuring that in a world of constant connectivity, the power of human touch and social interaction – so instrumental to our health and well-being – is maintained. Interestingly, the right technologies, applied in the right way, might be the best way to make sure this happens.
The healthcare industry is facing challenges to its business models and how it adopts regulation. It is in need of new skills and will have to find ways to make deployments scalable. Shifting old habits and aligning stakeholders to support patients across the health continuum requires a change in mentality. Technologies, such as mobile, social, Internet of Things, cloud and big data, need to be introduced into full systems, supported by new models, capabilities, processes, roles and responsibilities. Given this disruption, the World Economic Forum has predicted that the rise of robots and artificial intelligence will result in a net loss of 5.1 million jobs in the next five years.
For me, however, the future isn’t so bleak. Yes, certain jobs may be lost, but new ones will rise up or be refined. People will need to maintain the technology as it will never become fully autonomous, thus creating – rather than taking away – jobs. The emergence of new services, industries and new as-a-service business models are expected to have a potential value of $100 trillion.
These shifts will create the need for larger knowledge-sharing platforms and platforms are what sustain and elevate innovation. Building on shared infrastructure, fuelled by data and marked by multiple user interactions, platforms bring together people, processes, policies and networked technology to create a holistic system. In brief, they allow us to collaborate and transact on a global scale. To be successful in the platform economy, business leaders and policy-makers must ensure they have access to the right talent. This means expanding the current talent pool, through reskilling or hiring outside of isolated, internal groups.
There are drawbacks: Google was recently handed a major fine by the EU for abusing its dominant position in the market by manipulating its search engine results to favour its comparison shopping service. Platforms can be misused because of the amount of data they produce and process, so policing needs to be strong on that front. I think we’ll see a bigger shift towards companies becoming more legally aware and risk averse after this somewhat monumental hearing.
There are already mainstream intelligent products, such as Amazon Alexa and Apple’s Siri, that share information through platforms to improve efficiency and usability. These benefits are not exclusively available in the consumer market – they are also replicable within healthcare.
Take the Philips HealthSuite for example: it’s a digital platform for connected healthcare for patients and providers, both in the hospital and at home. It’s an open, cloud-based platform that collects, compiles and analyses clinical and other data from a wide range of devices and sources, from Philips and many other brands. It enables the move from siloed solutions to much richer, more meaningful and more personalized answers. A great example is how platforms can help bridge care from the hospital to the home and integrate the various care teams.
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These solutions offer actionable, data-driven insights and enable patients to collaborate with their full care team, as well as their care-giving family members. They provide care teams with a vast amount of personal health data that, once integrated with medical data and predictive algorithms, can find correlations and subtle signs of health deterioration at an early stage.
Of course, there are concerns about the hyper-connected reality in which we now live. From security to transparency of usage, issues around data will forever be at the forefront of the technological narrative – and rightly so, given that we’re in a time of mounting cyberattacks and threats. Our strategy includes not just staying on top of emerging software-based vulnerabilities and potential external threats, but also includes collaborating with regulatory agencies, industry partners and healthcare providers to close security loopholes and implement safeguards.
Although we’re heading towards a tumultuous time of uncertainty in technology, we’re also moving towards a time of great opportunity. I’m confident that machines aren’t going to bypass the need for human interaction. They will help us to improve access to health and care services by enabling care anywhere, at any time, and by making sure the right care professional is available when needed.