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How the technological boom has turned patients into consumers

How the technological boom has turned patients into consumers

Health care has become a consumer product. Patients have become consumers. A technological boom has turned health into business. Pharmacies, or more precisely e-pharmacies, ie those that operate online, are functional, usable and fashionable. More and more people in the world are turning to online pharmacies to get medical prescriptions.

This week a large group of entrepreneurs and investors gathered at the annual JPMorgan Chase healthcare meeting. At the forefront of the discussions were artificial intelligence, digital diagnostics and tele-health.

Cluttered, costly, long-standing health systems are being shaken by firms that directly target patients, meet them where they are - even online - and give them more control and health advice. Scientific advances in areas such as gene sequencing make new ways of care possible. E-pharmacies complete prescriptions, monitor users' health in real time, telemedicine platforms connect patients to doctors, and home tests enable self-diagnosis.

Healthcare consumes 18% of America's GDP, equivalent to $ 3.6 trillion a year. In other rich countries the percentage is lower, about 10%, but increases with the age of the population. The pandemic has made people more comfortable with online medical services. New developments have turned patients into consumers.

Consumer health care has long been synonymous with painkillers, cough syrup, skin creams.

Some of the more adventurous creators are already experimenting with digitization and consumption. Teva, an Israeli drug company dating back to 1901, has developed a digitally activated inhaler, equipped with sensors and connected to applications that tell users if they are using a drug properly.

Deloitte, a consulting company, estimates that 320 million consumer medical devices will be shipped globally by 2022. Apple's latest watch already offers an electrocardiogram (ECG) function, and iPhone maker plans to create sensors to measure oxygen in the blood and a thermometer to help women track ovulation.

Then there are beginners, who offer products and services of varying degrees of complexity. Some are simple online pharmacies. Truepill, a $ 1.6 billion six-year US company, fills 20,000 prescriptions a day.

Telemedicine firms, which offer a wider range of services, have flourished as Covid-19 has exhausted the capacity of clinics and patients can not be visited in person.

Skin + Me, a British firm, saves people a trip to the dermatologist by offering prescription skin care based on selfies. Thriva, also from Britain, analyzes blood from finger piercings and measures high cholesterol and anemia from home.

Currently these medical alternatives have suffered a stroke due to the weakening of Covid-19.

Some products will prove unsuitable. However, as Scott Melville of the Consumer Health Products Association says, "There is no going back to the old system, where you rely exclusively on a medical professional for your health care." Entrepreneurial companies want to help people heal more. quickly or, better yet, avoid the disease from the beginning, i.e. prevent it.