Innovation Speaks

Inventor and futurist to speak on the next wave of health care technology at OMED

Technology is paving the way for highly personalized health care delivery, and DOs are well-positioned to be at the forefront of this movement, says Nicholas Webb.

An inventor with 42 patents in the health care realm, Nicholas Webb is optimistic about how technology will greatly improve the patient experience in the coming years. The author of the top-rated book “What Customers Crave” spoke with The DO about his upcoming keynote talk at OMED and how DOs can lead the next shift of health care innovation. Following is an edited interview.

How is technology changing the medical field?

Everyone thinks health care is going down the tubes. But the future of health care is incredibly bright.

We are now in a time of health care disruption where the depth and speed of technology innovation have changed significantly. We’re going to be able to leverage wearable devices that will monitor dozens of different biomarkers. This monitoring will allow us to identify problems long before they become serious or even deadly. The net result of this next wave of health care is far better ways of anticipating and preventing disease.

How can DOs be prepared for the next trend of innovation in health care?

What physicians provide goes beyond clinical efficacy and safety. When considering new technologies for care delivery, aim to be strategic rather than simply reacting to the trends, but know that understanding and implementing new technologies will help you stay relevant and deliver more value to your patient population.

What’s the importance of patient experience design for DOs?

Patient experience is incredibly important because many of today’s patients are being trained by Apple, Amazon and Google to expect a very different experience. DOs, by their very nature, have been very patient-centric and are in a good place to help create better experiences for patients, from the first point of contact to the wait time to be seen to the total experience as a whole. This new body of work is a mandate. Most hospitals and clinics in this country are actively involved in what is called patient experience design. 

Why are DOs uniquely positioned for the next trend in medicine?

Hyper-intervention, where we are now, is driven by the fact that lots of people make lots of money creating lots of interventions. We have device companies, hospitals, clinics. The next big transition will be a move toward true personalized health care where we get back to that DO philosophy of treating the mind, body and spirit and cultivating a real understanding of the human that we’re treating. DOs have a greater sensitivity and instinct for this new era that we’re entering. 

How would you describe your approach to innovation, and how can DOs be a part of innovation in their field?

Everybody is born innately innovative. Everything you see in the world is a physical manifestation of somebody’s idea. The difference between successful inventors and those that those who’ve never been perceived as innovators is simply their willingness to move forward on an idea or hunch they had in the their daily practice. That’s what I do. I consider myself to be an active observer and through active observation, I’m identifying needs, problems and opportunities. When you have that mindset, all of sudden you realize you do have those innovative skills. You just have to be willing to deploy them.

 Nicholas Webb will speak at OMED at the San Diego Convention Center on Friday, Oct. 5 at 4:15 p.m. PT.

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