One of technology’s biggest potential opportunities for health care is providing patients with better preventive care so that some medical emergencies, like heart attacks, can be averted.
Bruce Broussard, CEO of health insurer Humana, explained Tuesday at Fortune‘s Brainstorm Health conference in San Diego, that he believes technology will help patients receive help during medical crises.
For instance, he cited the growth of Internet-connected devices—smartwatches among them—that can track heart rates as potentially revolutionary because they allow for monitoring of vital signs in daily life. By getting up-to-date patient data, medical companies would be better equipped to understand a “360-degree” view of the patient.
Broussard also pointed to the importance of telemedicine technologies, like video conferencing that let doctors virtually visit patients in their homes. He cited a hypothetical scenario of a patient who lives in a rural area taking a virtual meeting with a specialist doctor that’s complemented by an in-person visit from a nurse. This combination of virtual doctors and physical nurses could let health care providers do “all the things you could do in a physical office, in a home.”
“This extends the healthcare system,” Broussard said.
Despite the rise of telemedicine, Paul Jacobs, the former CEO of Qualcomm and now the CEO of wireless tech company XCOM, argued for medical professionals visiting their patients’ homes.
Jacobs recalled the case of a telemedicine patient who mistakenly believed that he or she had a migraine and wanted a prescription for a specific medication. Eventually, a doctor visited the patient’s house and discovered black mold. After the mold was removed, “the migraines went away,” Jacobs said, concluding: “The personal touch—the human touch—is still really important.”
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