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a future pathway of health reform « Previous | |Next »
January 2, 2006

In the Review section of the weekend Australian Financial Review there is an article entitled 'The World to Come', which has been downloaded from Foreign Policy. The article consists of the views of leading thinkers on what won't last the next 35 years. One piece, by Graig Mundie, a senior vice-president and chief technical officer for advanced strategies and policy at Microsoft, address health care reform in the form of changes to the doctor's offices.

It's an important topic in Australia given this scenario:

Bruce Petty

An earlier post on this scenario.

Mundie rightly says that a crushing burden isincreasingly being placed on national health-care systems, and that governments will:

"..soon be forced to confront a complicated and inefficient system that focuses too much on managing disease when it arrives and not enough on preventing people from getting sick. A critical step in reforming the system will be making visits to the doctor's office as a last resort rather than a first step."

That is beginning to happen in Australia under Treasury governance. We are on the threshold of reconsidering the importance of primary health care, and wellness is becoming a part of medicalspeak.

However, Mundies' focus, as a Microsoft organization man, is on medicine and technology. So what's he pointing to? What is the pathway of health care reform as envisioned by Microsoft?

Mundie says that the web is already allowing patients quick access to quality health information once dispensed only by white coats. He adds:

Soon, patients wil access customised health plans online. Diagnosing and treating many everyday conditions will be as simple as despositing a drop of blood in a machine and, within moments, having the computer tell you what you have and how to get rid of it.

That is happening slowly in Australia, very slowly. The slowness is in sharing e-health records due to the medical profession's tardiness in making a patient's health information accessible to non-medical professionals or even to the patient.

Mundie argues that doctors (GP's) won't be obsolete. They:

...will spend more time assessing options for preventative action and less time sheperding patients through their offices. Doctors will increasinlgy rely on highly personalized treatments--such as new drugs target specifically to personal needs, or even nanomachines that attack bad cholestrol and or eliminate tumors too small to detect today. Specialsts in turn will be free to focus on highly difficult procedure and push the frontiers of health care.

This is a high-tech interpretation of health care reform, much favoured by the Americans. Preventative health care is also about wellness: keeping us out of hospitals and helping us managing lifestyle illness (eg., obesity) through diet and ecercise. We don't need new drugs or cutting edge surgical procedures to address obesity.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 8:50 AM | | Comments (3)


More like cheap connected devices will become ubiquitous. Each time you urinate in the toilet it will check your sugar, cholestorol whatever and through RFID or some other protocol transmit that to your "health" box. Your sink will analyze your spit, your watch your sweat, body heat, heart rate etc etc and all transmit it to your PC, laptop or some blackbox device that you can query for your health history.

Maybe then, and only then, will you go online to get a tailored plan.

It will be more about China supplying us with cheap technological gagdets which we can integrate into our house and systems that give us immediate bio-feedback and personal health trending.

That is a neat description of Microsoft's geewhiz technological approach to health.

Me thinks a key to this is the specially tailored fitness in gyms orientated to health as wellbeing and not big muscles or fitness for its own sake.

Gary, I dont think that future includes Microsoft. GE or Siemens will dominate it. They already build a lot of that kind of stuff for energy and facility systems.

Little black-boxes that do that kind of stuff wont run universal operating systems or Microsoft applications.

They will also be super small, super cheap and ubiquitous. The black boxes will be in your basement and a part of every house in the same way a fuse box is.