Kasparas Aleknavicius

Seamlessly Integrating Health Data Will Win the Future

May 21
All

Kasparas Aleknavičius, MD, is a health futurist and the Head of Medical Affairs in Kilo Health. Under his leadership, we have explored multiple ways to use the latest technology and improve the lives of millions.

In today’s interview, we discussed how to bridge the gap between healthcare and technology. So, what kind of innovation can we expect from digital therapeutics (DTx), mobile health (mHealth), and telemedicine in the near future?

How did the digital health industry change over the past few years?

In the broadest view – not much has changed. Patients and healthcare providers are slow adopters. But the end-user count is ever-growing. Partnerships between startups and other stakeholders already show results, and the investments are pouring into this industry.

All in all, there is a lot more to learn. More countries are showing interest in adopting country-wise reimbursement strategies for digital therapeutics.

More patients are raising the bar by demanding convenience, accessibility, speed, and quality. Eventually, they will be the ones driving this whole market forward.

What are the most pressing challenges in traditional healthcare?

The most apparent but fundamentally challenging issues are employee shortage and burnout. The medical staff is overworked. 

There are also a lot of accessibility, scalability, and price problems, especially in the US.

What is the most significant opportunity that has the potential to transform healthcare?

Overlooking education is a crucial issue we need to solve. Many policymakers don’t emphasize the patients’ responsibility for their health.

Everyone wants a quick fix. But when the only feasible option is offered, a massive part of the population tends to refuse. Just think of vaccines. In such cases, we need an intervention. Undergoing an educational course on what happens in both scenarios might help make a science-based decision.

What are the main issues that hold back digital health today?

Digital therapeutics and other solutions are trying to integrate themselves into healthcare – both technically and practically. To claim their value proposition for various stakeholders and the end-user, they have to break many obstacles along the way.

Regulatory, compliance, research, and distribution issues are holding us back. All those issues are on top of the typical product, operational, and funding challenges.

Today, digital health startups try to know their audience and please all stakeholders. The problem is that there are only the old ways to get to know the audience, which does not necessarily work for DTx, mHealth, and telehealth.

I believe that the only way to correct this is for newcomers to attempt and forge fresh ways to satisfy the audience.

We haven’t yet seen a disruptor that could be a threat to the current healthcare services model. I believe newcomers shouldn’t build their narrative on the same broken foundation. They should try to leave some middlemen behind or, on the opposite side – start building the new workflows for the doctors when they see that the old ones do not yield desired results.

How can different stakeholders collaborate better to ensure better patient care?

Several issues slow down the collaboration between the stakeholders in the medical field.

There is a constant conflict between insurance companies and providers in the US. 

Their incentives are directly opposite. Insurance companies earn money when people are healthy and have fewer visits. Providers make money from more visits and health checks. The CPT codes for RPM and telehealth solve this problem partially.

Most stakeholders are doing a great job accessing these technologies and keeping the quality bar pretty high. On the other hand, tech companies need to communicate more clearly, because skepticism is also high among the stakeholders.

How will emerging technologies such as AI, VR, AR, or blockchain transform digital health in the upcoming years?

It’s hard to talk about these technologies all at once. They are currently used in different contexts, despite being closely connected in the imaginable future.

Blockchain is in its infancy, and it’s a Wild West out there. It’s exactly as the internet was back in the 2000s – with all the good and the bad things. I could see blockchain-based crowdsourcing of data to be used in decentralized clinical trials or for setting up our digital twins – the representations of us online.

Artificial intelligence (AI) is used to interact with the end-user and for clinical decision support. These use cases will only grow more significant. I see them as a core part of digital health.

I hope to see augmented reality (AR) assisting in surgical procedures and supplementing the POV of a surgeon. This is already happening, but slowly.

In the future, any innovation, invention, or technology that would use seamless health data collection will be the winner.

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