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US Health Consumers Demand More: Can Tech Save Us?

Insights from Mary Meeker’s 2019 Internet Trends Report

In the latest edition of the Internet Trends report, Mary Meeker highlights the growing digitization of the healthcare sector, framing that growth squarely in the context of a U.S. healthcare system that—in some cases—has room for further innovation to better meet consumers’ demands or expectations.

Meeker, founder of Bond Capital (and former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers general partner), launches the report’s healthcare section with an overview of a system that has the highest expenditures on healthcare as a percentage of GDP among other nations in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Adding in the high number of uninsured individuals, high administrative costs and outcomes that are worse than other developed countries, Meeker makes the case that the digitization of U.S. healthcare is driven by consumer demand for better alternatives.

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Citing a report by Rock Health, she notes that consumer adoption of digital health tools, including online healthcare information, online provider reviews, remote monitoring, wearables and telemedicine, have steadily increased over the past three years.

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Meeker called out 11 examples of areas experiencing strong, consumer-driven, digital uptake in the U.S. including:

  • Research Insights – Genomic profiling and other tools allow patients to take a more proactive role in managing their health.
  • Electronic Health Records (EHR) – While concerns over interoperability persist, nearly 100 percent of hospitals and 90 percent of physician offices have adopted EHRs.
  • Health Networks – These online portals help patients with complex conditions and their providers to align and coordinate care.
  • Online Appointment Scheduling – These tools give patients easier access to care and cut down on the number of unused appointments.
  • On-Demand Urgent Care – Online tools give consumers immediate access to available clinicians in their area.
  • Telehealth/Telemedicine – Platforms that connect patients with remote clinicians in order to improve access and reduce costs.
  • Prescription Delivery – Services that provide consumers convenience and reduced costs while potentially increasing compliance.
  • Physician Social Networks – Platforms that allow clinicians to connect with each other remotely to extend their knowledge base.
  • Health Insurance Management – These tools seek to streamline and increase the transparency of health insurance services and costs for consumers.
  • Health Incentive Tools – Behavioral change tools and apps work to help improve lifestyle choices.
  • Medicare Plan Management – Personalized coverage for Medicare recipients.

She also highlighted some of the ways that large technology companies are entering the healthcare space. These initiatives include developing consumer-centric products and services, re-imagining clinical trials and applying artificial intelligence and machine learning to healthcare challenges.

In fact, according to the report, AI promises some of the biggest benefits that could play out over the next 10 to 20 years—if it can work through the highly regulated healthcare environment.

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Originally published June 25, 2019 on Fenwick's Life Sciences Legal Insights blog.

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