What Instagram, zettabytes, and Airbnb have to do with US Healthcare

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Today I read through Mary Meeker’s deck of extremely interesting data on internet trends, the “2012 Internet Trends Year-End Update.” Meeker is a partner at Kleiner Perkins Caulfield and Byers, and is well known for her expertise on this topic. So what does the internet have to do with US healthcare you may ask? Everything, I would answer! Here are some of my top takeaways:

–       Meeker illustrates how the internet has evolved in areas from computing devices (desktops/notebooks to tablets/smartphones) to user interfaces (keyboard/mouse to touch/voice/gesture). As healthcare technology providers, how can we leverage these new areas to drive intuitive workflows, efficient encounters, and better user experiences for our customers?

–       The internet has helped re-imagine photography (think instagr.am and hipstamatic), knowledge (what happened to Encyclopedia Britannica?), note taking (check out Evernote), and countless other areas. What will the internet help re-imagine in healthcare? We have already seen the advent of moving medical record storage to the cloud, and the benefit of health awareness devices like FitBit, but I believe that the biggest impact will be in leveraging the analytics behind all that data. Which brings me to my next point.

–       Data is big. Per IDC, the amount of global digital info created and shared grew nine times in five years to nearly two zettabytes in 2011. For those of you that don’t know how big a zettabyte is (which I certainly didn’t), it’s one trillion gigabytes. That is a lot of information! Think of the power of a meaningful analysis of all that information – it’s mind boggling, as is the positive impact it could have on healthcare.

–       48% of the US population currently uses a smartphone, and that’s a 50% year over year growth. Additionally, mobile now accounts for 13% of all internet traffic. Mobile technology is not going away, and it’s increasingly critical that healthcare technologies enable providers to interact with and even treat patients in a mobile environment.

Finally, Meeker covered the trend of becoming “asset-light.” We don’t have boxes of CDs and records anymore, we store all our music digitally. We don’t rent physical hotel rooms, we check out a place on Airbnb or Onefinestay. We don’t own a car, we rent one through Zipcar. And on and on. Does this trend mean that eventually we’ll treat patients outside the traditional care setting? Telemedicine has already started to take off, and I only believe that home health will become more popular as technology breaks down walls between the physical and virtual environments and trends like PCMH drive more holistic care.


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