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How Technology is Transforming Healthcare

While the healthcare industry has historically been knocked as slow to adapt to emerging technologies, the technological modernization of the industry is now occurring at a furious pace. From the digitization of health care records, to improved means of communications between doctors and patients, technology is transforming healthcare.

Tech behemoths like IBM, as well as scrappy Silicon Valley startups, have recognized the potential and are pouring resources into healthcare IT. According to data from investment company Rock Health, venture capital funding to healthcare information technology companies for 2014 reached $2.3 billion as of mid-year 2014. That's more than 10 times the nearly $200 million that was invested in healthcare IT in 2007.

One of the healthcare industry's newest tech innovations, called Figure 1, is the brainchild of a doctor named Josh Landy. Figure 1 is an Instagram-style app that allows doctors to share photos of patient conditions with other medical professionals in order to get their opinions regarding diagnosis and treatment.

This article details how Landy was inspired to create Figure 1 after observing all of the "off-the-cuff consults happening in hospital hallways where doctors would try and talk through the details of a case that was surprising or new to them."

More than 115,000 people are using Figure 1. Most are healthcare professionals, but it is estimated that 10 percent are non-healthcare users. Only doctors can comment on cases.

Like many tech innovations in the healthcare space, apps like Figure 1 raise privacy fears. After all, most people would not appreciate having photos of their conditions broadcast to thousands of others - doctors or not. According to Landy, Figure 1 addresses these concerns in two ways: doctors must get permission to take a photograph, and no identifying details can be shared.

As you might expect, Figure 1 is not the only disruptive player in this space. Doximity is a social network exclusive to doctors that allows physicians to collaborate on patient treatment. Another startup, Sherpaa offers patients medical consultation online and over the phone.

As healthcare technology continues to evolve, it becomes increasingly important to ensure that policies are in place to keep patient information secure. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns at 517.371.8140 or nstratton@fosterswift.com.

Julie C. LaVille authored this article as a Law Clerk.

Categories: Physicians, Privacy


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