That title may sound audacious or provocative.
But if anything, it’s conservative. Your wait may, in fact, be much shorter than five years.
According to a study released by Technavio in June, “the global healthcare business process outsourcing (BPO) market is expected to reach over USD 9 billion by 2020.”
I, for one, absolutely believe it.
And the reason I believe the market will grow so much is the burgeoning, industry-wide use of cloud storage technology, which Amazon, Microsoft, and Google have already largely cornered the market on.
And the big thing cloud storage technology is going to be needed for?
Your medical record.
But this isn’t your father’s medical record, with less than a megabyte of data.
It’s not even your current medical record, with less than a megabyte of data plus, say, 30 gigabytes of images.
No, this is your near-future medical record, which will include not only a quaint 120 gigabytes of genomic data, but the data from your:
- Epigenetics, the external factors that affect genes and how cells “read” them
- Transcriptome, “a collection of all the gene readouts present in a cell”
- Proteome, “the entire set of proteins expressed by a genome, cell, tissue, or organism at a certain time”
- Metabolome, “the complete set of metabolites within a cell, tissue or biological sample at any given time point”
- Microbiome, “the genetic material of all the microbes—bacteria, fungi, protozoa and viruses—that live on and inside the human body”
- Devices, including gadgets like Fitbits, Apple Watches, and—soon enough—“neural dust”
All of this data will balloon the size of your current medical record to as much as six terabytes, a gargantuan amount of information that no provider’s primary care system will be able to handle for even a few of its patients, even by 2020.
But even if it could, would you want it to? As a patient, when I go to a specialist, I don't want to have to rely on my primary care provider’s system to apprise that specialist of my condition. I want the specialist to have instant access to my complete medical record on demand. I want the specialist to just know my situation and everything related to it.
That’s just common sense, and it’s a factor that in no small way affects Technavio’s $9 billion figure, a figure that roughly parallels the $8.7 billion in revenue AWS generated for Amazon between Q1 2015 and Q1 2016.
So while I stand by my assertion that the title of this piece is conservative, I’d like to take this opportunity to be audacious and/or provocative with a genuinely bold prediction.
Mark my words: the early adopters, the innovative regions and countries, the smartest health systems—all of them will begin moving their medical records into the cloud in very short order. And when that happens, all health IT vendors will race to the cloud.
What will begin as a mere gallop will soon evolve into an all-out stampede.
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