IdeaLab: A Smart Clinic Empowered by Data
In 2025, driverless cars, automated systems, and self-serve kiosks reduce the need for daily human interaction—a trend that, while useful in saving time and removing friction from routine activities, creates a lonelier, more isolated world.
Maria’s healthcare provider recognizes the benefits that these new technological advancements offer for affordability and quality of healthcare, but she is also sensitive to the issues that can arise with fewer human interactions. The result is that, by the year 2025, Maria’s primary care physician (PP) plays a significantly greater role in the diagnosis and treatment of many of her symptoms with the help of technology.
Maria’s primary physician is the heart of her medical team, but the Integrated Care Platform (ICP2025) is its nerve center. Maria’s complex set of symptoms points to no well-known and discrete diagnosis, so a wide array of data and knowledge needs to be applied to her case.
In the present-state system of care, Maria’s physician applies her knowledge, augmented by discrete tests, database searches, and expert consultation to determine a diagnosis and treatment. This system is slow, ad hoc, divided by institutional and geographic boundaries, and dependent upon human motivation. It is prone to confusion, missed connections, and often leads to dead ends.
In 2025, Maria’s primary physician is the human, social connection to this rather confusing world of medical knowledge, assisted by AI. The primary is empowered by a new generation of small diagnostic equipment, a shift that moves most non-invasive diagnostic testing procedures into the PP clinic setting. The PP is also freed from many of the tasks that reduce her availability to work with patients: including billing, form-filling, arranging consults, and medical record upkeep.
Maria's Touchpoints: Telemedicine through her home computer is Maria’s first point of contact with her primary care physician. Her wearables have been keeping track of her sleep patterns so that her physician can already access that information. Through the AI care assessment an appointment is made and Maria will meet her physician in a few days. The office setting has a care room that is connected to a suite of diagnostic imaging equipment. Maria’s appointment is quick and efficient. She spends half an hour relaxing while her records are run through the Integrated Care Platform. Her diagnosis is explained to her on an interactive smart board, and her treatment plan is well in hand before she leaves the building.
Some of our early research led us to questions about the reliability of artificial intelligence. Left unchecked, would humans be left out of the care equation? We couldn’t believe that human reasoning and human touch did not have a place in tomorrow’s healthcare environment. Would robots be replacing humans?
But the exciting possibilities of machine learning to improve the diagnosis and treatment of complex problems began to energize our project. Envisioning the future was all about imagining how technology could benefit the care environment while empowering human connection. As an aid to human interaction, computers can speed up data and research searches, scan and transfer records, and take over the repetitive tasks of the healthcare practice. In the competitive, value-added, cost-cutting world of healthcare, being lean means having machines do what work they can and freeing caregivers to provide the reasoning and compassion that machines cannot.