Healthcare to enter 'third wave of digital'

The new 'healthcare revolution'
By Erin McCann
10:59 AM
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They're calling it the "third wave of digital." And it's coming to the healthcare industry first. 

In the 1990s, it was the Internet. In the early 2000s, it was about mobility. Now, it's the era of "living services." At least that's according to Accenture officials, who citing their new report published June 15, say organizations – including healthcare organizations – will be soon providing a "new wave of transformative digital services."

And the one area where this wave will appear first? It's the healthcare industry, officials point out. Think quantified self-health tracking devices. Think wearables and mobile health platforms that are helping consumers manage myriad chronic diseases and wellness.

"We call them 'living services' for three reasons," said Brian Whipple, senior managing director for Accenture Interactive, in a June 15 press statement announcing report findings. "They will change consumer experiences," he continued. "They will be driven by things that are very proximate to us such as wearables and nearables. And, at the human level, living services will affect our lives in a much deeper and more positive way than mobile and Web services have."

As Mark Curtis, chief client officer of Fjord, Accenture Interactive’s design and innovation group, described, we’re still very much in the mobile era now. "But this third era is "really coming at us very fast now."

That era of living services is composed of what Curtis explained as first the "digitization of everything" and second, what they call "liquid expectations." And understanding this part just may be key for the healthcare industry – and something it's not quite used to.

"Liquid expectations are the process by which what we're now seeing in digital is that customers are having an experience over here. They're enjoying that experience, and they are then transferring their expectations for what best experiences should be across industry barriers," said Curtis. "What that means is that…now you need to be looking long and hard at what people are doing in completely different industries." And that includes health, he added.

Described in the Accenture report as the "healthcare revolution," officials say healthcare living services will be fueled by the movement of the "quantified self," that is, the increasing awareness of one's health and technology advances that now allow people to monitor health in myriad ways.

The report cites many apps and platforms becoming more and more prevalent. One smartphone application, being developed by folks the University of Michigan, for instance, monitors a user’s voice to detect mood changes for individuals with bipolar disorder.

"Through smart mobile technology, individualized healthcare can be administered more efficiently and more effectively," officials concluded.