Digital Health

Tech and Medicine Must Evolve Together

Overview The American College of Cardiology’s chief innovation officer discusses why the technology industry and health care industry must come together to champion the future of digital health.

We are living in a time where technology has enabled immediacy, where quick access to digital information and increased computing power have made consumers expect quick fixes and on-the-spot answers. From step counters to diabetes alert wearables, devices and technology in the health care world are giving users access to specific and in-depth health information.

As this digital transformation continues, however, and consumers are more empowered through consumer tools, we will need transformation of the health care delivery system, said Dr. John Rumsfeld, chief innovation officer at the American College of Cardiology (ACC).

“The health care system isn’t ready for this yet,” Rumsfeld said. “The one major sector of our economy that hasn’t yet but is desperate to transform is health care. But there is a way we can address this.”


Trying to Meet Expectations

As information is retrieved in various consumer products at an increasing speed, hospitals don’t yet have the ability to automatically digest the data and analyze it to make it actionable and deliver care.

“We need the same immediacy that’s been enabled by a digital transformation to happen in health care so we can better promote health and address prevention and risk factors,” Rumsfeld said.

He outlined two major obstacles:

  • Overexcitement

    Consumers are excited by and passionate about the technology that has been made available to them and that has empowered them to have data. Though this alone is not a problem, it often leads to disillusionment, where there is a misunderstanding about the realistic usability of that data.

    “People think all these technologies are ready to use in a clinic today and we can act on it, but that’s not true,” Rumsfeld said. “At this point, it’s more often just data overload and not actionable information.”

  • Integration

    There is also difficulty bringing in the data and presenting it as information that doctors and caregivers can digest. There also needs to be a way to bring care outside the walls of hospitals and toward virtual and remote monitoring to match the data abundance.

    “Against that backdrop, we need an effective partnership between the technology world and the clinical world,” Rumsfeld emphasized.

If we – the clinical and tech worlds – don’t work together to evolve, we will not meaningfully change the health care system.

Dr. John Rumsfeld
Chief Innovation Officer at the American College of Cardiology (ACC)

Co-Development Can Transform Health Care

“We can have all the technology,” Rumsfeld continued, “But if we – the clinical and tech worlds – don’t work together to evolve, we will not meaningfully change the health care system. The secret is in combining forces from inception.”

To address and bridge the current gap, both industries must look for venues and opportunities where the clinical and tech worlds can interact, Rumsfeld said, highlighting CES as one of those areas. This interaction also needs to be in the early stages of tech development — as early as co-creating from the inception of an idea — and not just applying already developed technology to health care.

“It’s a team effort,” Rumsfeld said. “We have to row equally.”

On the medical side, health care leaders should prepare the clinical workforce and start changing its perception on how health care is delivered. Through sharing thought leadership and research-backed case studies, these leaders can help caregivers and clinical providers understand and anticipate the growth of virtual care through technological advances.

“If we go alone, we won’t get as far as we would together,” Rumsfeld summarized. “Jointly, we can achieve things we couldn’t possibly accomplish separately.

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