Medical Data as a Business Model

  • Medical data as a business model – Story

The Hospital of Tomorrow

Hospitals will prevent illness rather than help you recover from it. In the future, that's where the core competence of hospitals will lie. At least, if what Prof. David Matusiewicz says comes true. The Dean of the Health and Social Care Department of FOM University of Applied Sciences in Germany is convinced that the availability of medical data will fundamentally change the “hospital business model”. In an interview, he reveals what he believes hospitals must prepare themselves for.

What role will medical data play in the healthcare provision of the future?

Medical data will be the currency of tomorrow – and will be correspondingly relevant for the economic survival of service providers. While hospitals today are thinking based on country case values, future business models will concentrate on the availability of medical data and on adapting the knowledge they have acquired from it. It will not just be hospitals, but health insurance companies and the patients themselves who will earn money from medical data. Even today, there are companies offering people cash for their healthcare data. And I don't mean cryptocurrency or similar, but actual euro amounts. These real monetary values make it attractive for users of fitness watches, for example, to share their data.

How exactly can hospitals profit from this kind of data collection?

Whether they profit from it at all depends on whether they are prepared to fundamentally transform their business model. That's because big data will lead to greater knowledge – both affecting individuals and what will be possible for medicine as a science. This knowledge will contribute to illnesses being recognized before they occur. That's because, on the one hand, big data enables us to identify new correlations and produce more exact forecasts, while one the other hand, every individual will be able to determine their risk markers for themselves. The task of hospitals will then no longer be to remove a tumor with an operation or administer chemotherapy. Instead, it will be to intervene before the cancer emerges. Therefore, we are no longer talking about illness and treatment but about keeping people healthy instead. Future hospitals will thus specialize in offering diagnostics and risk minimization – for example, through genetic therapies. 

Please could you be more specific? How can we exactly imagine that kind of medicine?

In principle, all of us will be patients from birth onward because the risk factors for particular illnesses will be measured continually on a smartphone or other technology. As soon as a risk value exceeds a particular threshold – but the person is still far from becoming ill – a more precise diagnosis will be possible and the patient will receive preventive treatment. Diagnostics and therapy will therefore no longer be based on chance, but will be very targeted. And they will not take place in the hospital environment, as has been the case until now. Many diagnostic processes will be shifted upstream. Patients will be able to perform their own blood analysis, in a similar way they would determine their blood sugar level. Alternatively, diagnosis will take place via a service provider by means of telemonitoring. We do not know which technologies and business models will gain acceptance, but what is certain is that only the really serious cases will still come to the hospital. And of those there will be less and less thanks to earlier diagnostics.

This sounds like hospitals are becoming redundant??

Not quite. Serious estimates, however, assume that only 300 to 500 of the roughly 2,000 hospitals that currently operate will remain. And certainly there will be specialised centres for certain diseases and people will have to accept traveling further distances for elective treatments.

This scenario is not particularly attractive for hospitals. So why should they go along with digitization?

Because others will do that anyway. Anyone who thinks that digitization can be delayed through ignorance, will have to watch how Amazon, for example, operates the first hospital and offers the first insurance. You cannot prevent the dominance of data for tomorrow’s medicine. Hospitals should therefore prepare themselves and consider how they themselves want to shape medicine.

What can and must they do for it today?

Digitize vigorously. Digital patient records are the most important step for this purpose. That will save billions and ensure that processes are accelerated considerably. Besides, communication between service providers and patients must be improved. Digitization helps here as well. And hospitals must now ensure that medical data is available in a more standardized and structured way so that it can provide overarching information and form the basis of large-scale analyses. Besides, it is now time to also rethink diagnostics codes – away from illness and towards symptoms. The coding of illnesses is fairly imprecise and these inaccuracies then flow into healthcare research. Proper data management and more precise research can be carried out based on internationally applicable symptom coding. It is difficult to predict what specific requirements hospitals will have to meet next. Innovation cycles have become too short and the market too volatile. Therefore, the motto should be: Progress!

Here you can find additional articles of the story "Escape the Data Jungle".

Prof. Dr. David Matusiewicz - Medical data as a business model
Medical Data as a Business Model
The Hospital of Tomorrow

Prof. David Matusiewicz

Dean of the Health and Social Care Department at the FOM University of Applied Sciences in Germany