Digital Future: Digital Health

Digital Future:  Digital Health
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I was recently in a meeting, and someone pulled out their iphone and dragged the end of it down their upper left arm.  This individual explained that as a diabetic, he is now able to check his blood sugar level as much as he likes and therefore is able to keep his levels much more in balance that previously.  And he’s able to do it without painful ‘pin pricks’ previously required for a brief blood test. This ability to constantly monitor body conditions – various measures of health – is revolutionary and a major evolving aspect of our digital future.  Digital health applications are exploding – and will shape our digital future in ways that represent major changes from the past.

This is the third of a series of four articles on our digital future, where we explore the opportunities and impacts of digital technologies in a few areas.  This article, Part 3 in the series, focuses on how our digital future may impact our individual and collective health – and how that may have ramifications in other areas of life and community.  Part 1 looks at the digital future as it relates to the subscription economy – where increasingly consumers subscribe to rather than buy goods and services. Part 2 in the series, focusing on the financial services industry, looks at the evolving ‘fintech’ sector and how it is changing industry structure in financial services – and changing the very structure of how money flows.  Finally, Part 4, on digital government, dives into how digital technologies are transforming the delivery of government services, and how this transformation might affect the very way we are governed.

It is powerful indeed to be able to monitor a person’s physical conditions in real time.  What will the effect be?

Surely people will live longer.  I is likely that damaging episodes – of swings in blood sugar level over time for a diabetic, of small or near heart attacks for someone with a heart condition, or of excessive sun exposure for someone who is sensitive – will be greatly reduced, thus lengthening lives.

Surely life insurance companies will want to charge less to an individual who wears such a monitoring device…and who applies the information provided.

And surely health insurance companies will charge less for those who monitor closely…just as they do for those who join health clubs and refrain from smoking.

So services and products that support that monitoring function should boom.

But in addition, if everyone on a verge lives much longer, what will be the ramifications for that?  Here are my immediate thoughts:

  • Population will rise faster than otherwise – not just due to increased birth rates
  • The health care system may become overburdened with people at a later age – where 100 becomes the new 80!
  • Retirement needs to be re-considered – when, what to do, and how to finance.
  • The workplace needs to evolve – to include ore older workers.
  • The idea of disparity between advantaged and disadvantaged will need to be rethought.

What second order effects do you see with individuals living longer due to digital technology?

This Post is Part of the Series: Digital Future

This series of four articles explores the opportunities and impacts of digital technologies in a few areas.

  1. The Digital Future: The Subscription Economy
  2. The Digital Future: Fintech
  3. Digital Future: Digital Health
  4. Digital Future: Digital Government