Tom's Take | October 30th, 2019
What kind of advances in technology are shaping health care/benefits right now?
Tom’s Take: Hmmm, where do I even start with this one? There’s so much going on behind the scenes every day on the health care front and we don’t always see or hear about many of these developments on a regular basis. But the progress with technology has been incredible and it’s drastically improving our care and the way it’s being accessed and delivered around the nation.
Because I could go on and on here about these advances and how they’re shaping the health care/benefits picture, let me narrow it down to just three biggies for the purpose of this post.
- More sophisticated data science capabilities – Since entering an era where data is so prevalent thanks to things like electronic medical records, telemedicine and wearable devices, we have more medical intelligence to rely on than ever before. This expanded data is helping experts better understand the human body, which is leading to breakthroughs that help develop new drugs, fine-tune imaging techniques, shorten the diagnosis process and so much more!
- Access to stem cell therapies – Serving as an alternative to opioids for addressing pain and as a treatment option for some cancers and other conditions, stem cell therapies are now being offered by more and more facilities in the U.S. so patients aren’t limited to traveling outside the country for them. Combine this and the fact that many therapies can be offered as outpatient procedures without a lot of down time/extensive healing and it’s easy to understand how these forward-thinking therapies are becoming much more accessible and affordable. Plus, depending on the use, some health plans are now covering stem cell therapies.
- Genomic testing discoveries – The introduction of genomic testing is helping patients and providers get ahead of diseases. By looking at all genes vs. a select grouping, this testing is helping predict key factors like disease risk, rate of progression and recurrence. With cancer, it can provide valuable guidance on treatment options as it helps determine how a tumor will behave – for instance, is it slow- or fast-growing? – and its likelihood to spread.
Technology has always played a huge role in health care, but we are continuing to see just how much impact it can have in everything from disease diagnosis to proactive treatment and prevention. The more advances we see in health-related technology, the more our health plans and benefits will continue to evolve!