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Question: What are some recent technological advances in health care?

 

Regina Herzlinger: The other important technological advances are in a field called remote patient monitoring. What this consists of is planting sensors inside the human body that measure what's going on.

Medtronic, for example, a great medical device company, has a sensor that measures how a heart, which suffers from congestive heart failure, the heart is so flaccid it can't pump the fluid in the body. It tells the owner of that heart, "Hey, you're getting congested. You better take a diuretic."

Or there's a little chip that can be embedded on a pill. You swallow the chip, the chip tells you that you have too much glucose in your body. That's very important information for a diabetic so that he or she can correct the glucose balance within their bodies.

That is the technological advance that's at least as important as the biotechnology advance in what's typically called personalized medicine.

Electronic medical records are no technological marvel. They're merely having an electronic record of what happens to you medically.

Why don't we have those? Why do we have financial records and no electronic medical records? The reason is that our health care system is so fragmented. We have bits and pieces of data with the lab, the x-ray place, the various doctors we go to, the hospitals, the nursing homes. These people don't communicate with each other.

The challenge with electronic medical records is not a technological one. It is a managerial one.

How do you line up incentives so that these people start communicating with each other so that the customer can have a complete record of everything that's been done to them and everything that's known about them medically?

 

Recorded on: May 27, 2009.

 

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