The Amazon of healthcare

The Amazon of healthcare
The Amazon of healthcare

Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International, discusses the idea of a one-stop-shop for healthcare needs that offers personalised care.

Dr Mitesh Patel, Medical Director, Aetna International, discusses the idea of a one-stop-shop for healthcare needs that offers personalised care.

When we think of online retailer Amazon, we think of one place where we have access to everything from electrical goods, to toys, books and clothes. The ‘Amazon of healthcare’ concept is the idea there can be an interconnected platform where people have access to all their healthcare needs. It would be possible to access past health records, personalised health recommendations, an online pharmacy and health insurance all in one place. Data from wearable fitness trackers such as those 

There can be an interconnected platform where people have access to all their healthcare needs

on mobile phone or devices such as Fitbits could also be stored in this platform, and would help tailor products specific to individual needs. Currently, there are lots of different platforms and lots of different ways in which data is being collected, but it’s not being used to its full potential because no one holds the whole picture. Think of the ‘Amazon of healthcare’ as a onestop-shop for healthcare needs where different technological pieces, individual health data and personalised medicine all come under one 

platform that makes sense to the individual. With Amazon, you chose only the products you want out of millions of options, with the Amazon of healthcare you’d only be presented with the services you want or need. 

A beneficial model 

One of the biggest benefits to this model of healthcare is the opportunity for tailored health solutions and personalised care. With multiple data sources feeding into one platform, the products and services that an individual will be offered can be hyper-personalised. In the past, by medical necessity, there has been more of a one-size-fits-all approach, but the Amazon of healthcare model would change this. Unique healthcare recommendations can be made based  on an individual’s distinctive health profile and will mean that advice is totally unique.

From improved access to certain medicines, to being more involved in treatment plans, personalised care can transform the patient experience and ultimately provides better outcomes for the individual. Personalised care takes into account the whole individual and provides a treatment that is as unique as every individual.

Healthcare systems can achieve positive results in the face of a rise in lifestyle and other related diseases, by taking a preventative care approach

There is consensus amongst the medical community that personalised care is the preferred form of treatment. In January, the NHS published a long-term plan to establish a model of personalised care in every local health system. At Aetna International we really believe that there is no one-size-fits-all approach and tailoring care to an individual is not only the right way to treat patients it is the best way to treat patients. The scalability offered by this healthcare model is also a huge benefit, more information can be disseminated to many more people via an online platform, than can be done via an in-person consultation. 

Additional trends

Another growing healthcare trend is AI, which is a huge trend across a variety of different sectors and healthcare is no different. I think, in 2019, we could see developments in AI technologies which will enable healthcare professionals to provide a higher quality service, resulting in clinicians being able to spend more time with patients due to a reduction in the time taken to do other aspects of their job.  I think we’re also seeing a shift towards a more holistic view of a person’s health. In the past, healthcare professionals have tended to focus on a patient’s illness or symptoms in isolation. Now, we’re looking at a person’s life as a whole and asking what impact other factors, such as their lifestyle, educational background and home environment, may be having on their health.

Additionally, with technology we have the opportunity to deliver treatment much more widely than in the past, through the use of apps and the internet.

With multiple data sources feeding into one platform, the products and services that an individual will be offered can be hyper-personalised

Virtual healthcare, where patients can receive treatment online without  having to visit a doctor, is an area that is growing rapidly. Technology can bridge the gap between the small number of medical professionals, such as doctors and nurses that are available, and the larger number of patients requiring support. 

Preventative care

In addition to the adoption of technologies and new models, healthcare systems can achieve positive results in the face of a rise in lifestyle and other related diseases by taking a preventative care approach. Rather than waiting to treat people once they’ve become sick, reducing the number of people getting ill in the first place can make a huge difference to overcoming ill health in any population and ultimately help governments save money in the long term. Governments and healthcare systems can take simple steps such as vaccination programmes and encouraging people to attend regular health check-ups in order to reduce the incidence of disease. The cause of lifestyle-related diseases is in the name, if health care systems can support their populations to make better choices about their own health then there will be less of a burden on medical professionals in the long term.