Blood Test  1
Image by Alan Chadwick   

Digital Health Technologies are becoming more and more popular every day. The IMS Institute for Healthcare Informatics reports that there are now over 165,000 mobile health apps on the market. Most, over two thirds, are focused on general wellness, lifestyle, stress and diet.  Perhaps even more surprisingly though, is the fact that while the number of health apps is rapidly growing, the percentage of apps that allow users to access and securely share their information has remained flat.

For years when patients, caregivers or consumers wanted, or worse needed, health information about themselves or their loved ones, the only choice was to make an appointment, see a medical professional and wait, sometimes weeks to get information that was often cryptic and difficult to understand. Today health consumers are demanding more access, information, convenience and lower costs. The healthcare system is struggling to respond effectively.

However, unlike patients and caregivers of yesterday who had no choice, today’s consumers, innovators and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking matters into their own hands when an opportunity arises. In many ways, this spirit of refusing to accept an unacceptable status quo is what threatens the traditional paradigm in healthcare more than anything else.  It is the main reason “Dr. Google” is so popular! Studies suggest that people value what their doctors say, but for a variety of reasons, they are often not able to get the information or support they need, when they need it, from the current healthcare system. With advances in health technologies and digital health like 3D printing, the Internet of Things (IoT) and Google, people can now find much of the information they need, at any time day or night. Increasingly, they can also act on that information.  That is exactly what Dana Lewis did by hacking into her medical device to create the The Open Artificial Pancreas System. As she puts it, the Open Artificial Pancreas System project (#OpenAPS) is an open and transparent effort to make safe and effective basic Artificial Pancreas System (APS) technology widely available to more quickly improve and save as many lives as possible and reduce the burden of Type 1 diabetes. Risky? Perhaps, but certainly inspiring. Safe? Time will tell. One thing is clear however, traditional methods of science, manufacturing, medicine and healthcare are rapidly changing.  Those who embrace the times and lead the change with effective solutions could help enhance the health of people across the globe.  Those who work to protect, their market dominance and the status quo, will eventually become irrelevant. Remember Woolworth and Woolco? A once dominant department store chain, is now defunct. Many other examples exist in almost every sector except healthcare.  Given current and emerging trends, the question is not if it will happen in healthcare but rather when and to whom? Which of the current leaders in healthcare and medicine will become essentially irrelevant in the next decade, because they failed to respond effectively and rapidly to changing societal realities. Just like Dana Lewis’s Artificial Pancreas System, the answer to this question will become clear and may even be surprising. Stay tuned, the answer may come sooner than you think!


Technology is changing the way we live, shop, play and even elect our presidents. Simply put, tech is changing everything. But can tech actually make you smarter? One Los Angeles school Superintendant believes that iPads helped raise graduation rates to 82% in his poverty stricken school district! Is it really that simple? If true, does it mean the technology is a success or the educational system was failing? What do you think? 

For some, the idea of technology helping to improve healthcare is exciting, to others not so much. Robotics in surgery is one exciting (or scary) area in medicine where technology has been advancing very quickly. In the past, robots have assisted surgeons in performing complex operations, helping to minimize pain and recovery time while improving satisfaction and outcomes. Now, surgeons in Washington DC have demonstrated that robots may soon, operate by themselves, without any human assistance! Look Mom, No Humans involved in my surgery!  This is both exciting and daunting. Think about the possibilities for increasing access to surgical procedures, in areas were there are not enough surgeons. Wide spread use of autonomous surgical robots could significantly reduce wait times to obtain critical operations or by combining the robots with telehealth infrastructure, potentially enable anyone, anywhere to receive surgeries they need, any time of day or night! In the future, these robots might even be cheap enough and small enough to fit into ever single home. Imagine, going to your bathroom, bedroom or man cave to have your next surgery! Right now the AAMC is projecting huge physician shortages of up to 90,000 physicians overall and specifically 31,600 surgeons in less than 10 years!

But what about the down sides?  What happens when something goes wrong and there is no surgeon involved in the operation? Even if it happens in a hospital rather than a home, who is responsible for the problem or fixing the problem? What if the problem is caused by an electrical failure or intermittent broadband service? Should the public utilities companies or telecommunications providers and ISP’s be at least partially liable? If you believe these problems are so significant that we should not go down this road, then how will we fix the base line problem of significant surgeon shortages in the next decade and beyond? We can’t build medical schools or increase the number of medical school graduates fast enough to compensate for those currently retiring, much less to make up for projected deficits! No matter what we feel about the potential risks associated with advances in medical and health technologies, it is certain that they will be a part of the future of health in America and across the globe. The Robot will see you now!

Welcome to the DiverseIT Blog. A Blog all about Innovation, Diversity, Technology and Health. Why a blog about these topics? Because in this country we have about 400,000 primary care doctors, about 2.6 million nurses and less than 6000 hospitals and health centers that are increasingly responsible for the health of a rapidly growing population of over 320 million people who are ageing fast, becoming much more diverse, seeking health sometimes at all costs and increasingly relying on technology. It is also because the current healthcare system is not able to keep everyone healthy, costs continue to rise unsustainably and no one seems to have the answer to the question of just exactly how are we going to improve health among an aging and increasingly diverse nation without a greater reliance on innovations in health technology. So let’s talk about it. This is a blog about solutions, not only the problems. So join the conversation and together, we just might change the world!