3 key aspects of a killer app for healthcare

HIMSS Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Steve Wretling says developers need to build the experience healthcare hasn’t had yet.
By Tom Sullivan
08:00 AM
patient on tablet at home with pill bottles

When former Google Chairman Eric Schmidt pitched the idea at HIMSS18 that voice recognition is the killer app for healthcare, the longtime tech exec, and many others who have made similar predictions, was perhaps only partially right.

While it’s true that voice is catching on, so are other cutting-edge technologies and there can be more than one that feeds a killer app.

Take the original iPhone that Steve Jobs brought to market in 2007, for instance. It converged a number of otherwise distinct capabilities into one device and more than a decade later is still going strong.

To that end, HIMSS Chief Technology and Innovation Officer Steve Wretling put forth three underlying components needed for healthcare’s own killer app.

1. Technology that is person-aware. Wretling explained that means a few different things. The technology has to understand how a person prefers to interact with healthcare and make medical data available accordingly. An app also has to ensure that it makes relevant data available for care plans and education. "Health events are occurring for a person all the time," he said. "How they slept, blood pressure, mood, how they’re feeling that day, this needs to be transitioned to a push model to take advantage of the real-time tech available today. Systems should be built to publish data so it flows across organizations."

2. Curated, guided apps. This is where artificial intelligence and machine learning come in. The systems of the future that hospitals need should also be context-aware, including location capabilities to deliver the right information at the right time to individuals interacting with the healthcare system. "Static workflows should be flipped around for dynamic flow of data based on situational awareness," Wretling added.

3. Computer vision. As in computer vision + voice tech = a killer combination. "Vision is passive to a person, so computer vision is an untapped resource," Wretling said.

Healthcare killer app formula

Much like the iPhone packed so much functionality into a device formerly used for voice calls and text messages, Wretling said that "ubiquity through convergence probably defines killer the best."

Now that we have defined those three aspects – person-aware, curated and guided, voice-plus-vision – and also appreciate the importance of ubiquity and convergence, here's the next question: What should this app actually enable people to do?

Sorry, but that’s the hardest part. And potentially the most impactful. Here’s one more tip:

"When you think about what’s exciting, what’s possible for developers, it’s building the experience that healthcare hasn’t really tapped yet," Wretling said. "The potential of what that could be for the future – we need to be creative about how we approach this."

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Twitter: SullyHIT
Email the writer: tom.sullivan@himssmedia.com