Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Health Care Tablets 'and' Robots

For many decades I have been working in the technology convergence space. Health care technologies are my current focus. Many years ago I was in a meeting and was struck by the simplicity and insight voiced by Steve Wozniak the Apple so-founder. His comment: “Innovation is about the ‘and’”, he said. It’s not about pulling something completely new out of the ether, it’s about identifying how and when the convergence, the ‘and’ of technologies provides an innovative opportunity. When ‘this’ and ‘that’ are thoughtfully understood and combined into what then becomes something new and innovative.

Currently robot assisted health care is typically thought of as ‘that’ and challenged as striving to replace human care givers. No one that I know has replacing human to human care as an objective. Lessening the burden of care delivery, increasing the available resources that can be dedicated to care, more attentive care, more aware care, more customized care and care that enhances the quality of life- yes. And, good objectives they are.

But we have now reached the moment whereby many will now begin to more fully understand that robots are the new interface to knowledge – and action. Having successfully created an ‘and’ by bringing together what was only tablet based software with robots convinces me that robots will indeed win their place – in health care. Now we have an attentive robot that can move and ‘seek and surmise about’ a health situation and reach out and suggest to a care giver that something needs attention. At the most basic level, see if someone is moving or static. Is that someone responsive to queries? Is that someone happy or sad? Most critical is the do something about it aspect - like move around - to deliver medicine, do an infra-red scan on body temperature or measure heart rate or launch a video tele-presence call to remote care giver.

Yes, it will take a while to achieve robot price points that broaden consumer use which is why we should continue to focus so intently on understanding and delivering the benefits of tablet based care giving systems. Not only are they effective, they are inexpensive. Tablets have moved the needle in health care and as they move from the social arena into meaningful care delivery they are the stepping stone to the next great ‘and’.

So I agree tablets are the right move today but it is… ‘and’ robots tomorrow.

If you would like to discuss the impact of tablets and robots in health care feel free to reach out to me at