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A Painless Change That Could Improve Healthcare and Save Trillions of Dollars

In 2018, Americans collectively spent $3.6 trillion on healthcare. How much would be saved if patients choose their doctors via a data-driven analysis, a method that matches patients with doctors by the success rates of the doctors? The answer, estimated by one expert, is $860 billion a year. And people will have less pain and health issues.

Simple changes can often have monumental impacts. This was the underlying message in the recent “Come to Me Economy” story, and it’s true in many aspects of life, and it includes the simple act of picking a doctor. After all, most people pick their doctors based not on an objective analysis of historical treatment outcomes but on personal recommendations–which can have negative, cascading effects on both the individual and society.

For the individual, those negative effects can include anything from an increased number of unnecessary doctor visits, to the unease that comes with improper treatment, to medical malpractice. When roughly one in 20 patients are exposed to preventable harm, it’s clear medical malpractice is a significant issue.

For society, the negative effects from subjective choosing doctors can range from higher insurance premiums and costs in a  healthcare system that rewards medical professionals not for quality and health but for procedures.

All of this because of the tried and true method of picking doctors based on recommendations from family and friends isn’t quite as “true” as an aggregation of doctor-based outcomes. 

A math equation illustrating healthcare savings
A data-driven analysis in picking doctors could save the US billions.

The Old Way of Choosing Doctors

The predominant means of choosing which doctors to see for diagnosis and treatment has been to ask family and friends if they know anyone good, a subjective method that has endured, ingrained in our culture. In fact, as per a recent New York Times article on choosing a pediatrician, “[t]he best options often come from personal recommendations by family, friends, relatives and colleagues who have kids.” 

But this method has birthed a healthcare system that pays medical professionals for procedures performed instead of successes, and it is a process that is flawed from the moment a patient enters the system to their point of exit, as it fosters a culture where unnecessary or wrong procedures and medical malpractice are just the cost of doing business.

Many doctors do needless procedures that fail to address the problem. According to a 2018 report by the Washington Health Alliance, over 45% of medical services surveyed were deemed to be low-value or wasteful. 

Meanwhile, a 2017 report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information concluded that “over-treatment” is common, with 70% of physicians surveyed stating “that physicians are more likely to perform unnecessary procedures when they profit from them.” Another study from 2017 found that over 20% of overall medical care was unnecessary.

Clearly, while medical errors, needless procedures and over-treatment can have a dramatic effect on the individual patient, their ramifications can be felt on a much grander scale, with the general public forced to absorb the higher insurance costs and accept other issues that come with institutionalizing bad doctor care.

A Simple Change Can Rewrite the Equation

The “ask around” method of healthcare acquisition is something nearly everyone has utilized, and it has even evolved, with Internet sites like Yelp and online reviews of physicians guiding decisions. But the end result is the same: potential doctors are matched up with patients via a means that is wholly subjective and based on the opinions of others. It doesn’t take into consideration an accurate assessment of the positive outcomes each doctor is responsible for. It also doesn’t conduct that assessment via a massive statistical analysis.

The big data method rewrites the equation, focusing on a broad accounting of all the outcomes, and culling that information to whittle down which doctors have a greater rate of success. In essence, it answers the question of who the best doctors are by looking at the results those doctors produce.

Ultimately, the subjective opinion is removed from the equation completely.

There are a number of companies that have begun exploring this big data angle in healthcare, and they include Kaia Health, Aetion, Clarify and Garner Health. All of them take the approach that the real answers can be found by rewriting the equation, with Garner Health utilizing data-driven analysis to pair patients with doctors who have a track record of positive outcomes.

The Garner app being used to choose doctors
Garner is leading the charge on using data-driven analysis in choosing doctors.

Better Outcomes, Lower Healthcare Costs

“It turns out what matters most is which doctors people go to see,” says Nick Reber, CEO of Garner Health. “In other words, if your doctor is good, you’re going to be good, and if your doctor is not so good, you won’t be so good.” He adds: “It turns out that people with the same socioeconomic backgrounds, medical circumstances, etc. can have very different outcomes.” It all boils down to the doctor, and the doctor’s history of positive results.

By taking a “big picture” view of all the documented outcomes of various medical procedures, Garner was able to determine that there is often a disconnect between the amount of money spent and the favorability of the outcome.

“Seeing the best doctor translates into a far statistically better outcome,” says Reber. ”One of the reasons this occurs is because this is how doctors get paid. Some doctors actually read the medical literature and know how best to treat conditions, while others make decisions based on money.” He adds: ”Healthcare is totally different than any other industry in the world. If you want the best doctor, that doctor is going to lower the cost of your care, and keep you healthier in the long run. The sad thing is that doctors make a lot more money on cases with complications than cases which don’t.”

Consider the chart below, which visually represents the data of the quality of the doctors (the vertical axis) versus the average cost of care (the horizontal axis). As the data shows, the best doctors are the ones that actually treat patients successfully with fewer visits and fewer extraneous costs (like additional visits, unnecessary procedures, etc.).

A graph showing where quality doctors are clustered
(Graph courtesy of Garner Health)

Saving Businesses on Healthcare Costs

Healthcare costs affect more than just individuals. They’re also a factor for companies that provide health insurance to their employees. “The high and rapidly growing cost of healthcare is an existential threat to competitiveness of US companies,” says Reber. “When you start a company, you’re paying about ten-thousand dollars a year for each employee. COVID is making that even more acute, both in terms of falling revenues and profits, and the rise in medical costs”

But the big data approach the Garner and others are taking can assuage those expenses, especially on a large scale.

Consider the graphic below. Doctor A is a run-of-the-mill physician, while Doctor B has a significant track record of successful outcomes. Note the amount of unnecessary surgeries performed by both doctors.

A graph illustrating the difference in costs for different doctors.
(Graph courtesy of Garner Health)

“We are a new plan option that provides a concierge service that helps people choose better doctors,” says Reber. ”We try to provide a great experience. If you go, it’s free. If you take our recommendation, we’ll cover all your medical bills.”

How can it be free? Say’s Reber, “Employers are actually paying medical bills, the insurance company is just acting as the administrator. The employers are on the hook and are paying the doctors when you go. Remember, the highest quality of doctor care translates into lowest costs. So employers can now go from covering 80% to 95% because they’re saving 15%.”

“One of the major problems with healthcare dictated by insurance is if you go through your insurance, you can’t find a doctor directly – and you certainly can’t find a good one. With Garner, though, it is a very curated list of doctors that tells you who, why to go with them, their availability.” He adds: “We haven’t seen anyone use this data to improve the quality of care. Data-driven doctor selections dramatically improve patient health while lowering costs. Garner’s data-driven healthcare services deliver results.”

A Nick Reber quote about data-driven analysis
Data-driven analysis for choosing doctors will be a game-changer for healthcare!

The subjective, recommendation-based method of choosing doctors has had its day. Now it’s time to demystify the choice with a data-driven analysis that gives patients the best care possible, while shaving off $860 billion annually from national healthcare spending.  And most importantly, patients will be healthier faster and suffer less pain!

The benefits to both the individual care-seeker and society as a whole demand it.

 

At Bold Business we love stories of how business’ dramatically improve the world. The laws of common sense and economics could lead to private business doing more to fix healthcare than the federal and state governments combined! 

For more on Garner and its outcomes-based analysis, check out GetGarner.com

 

Ed Kopko, CEO and Publisher of Bold Business

      
Edward Kopko
CEO & Publisher
———————
Ed Kopko is BoldBusiness.com’s CEO and Publisher. He has a passion for business, economics and media. A serial entrepreneur, Ed has launched Bold Business to help broadcast the great accomplishments that come from business and entrepreneurial activity. He believes the very real and amazing Bold Impacts that these activities have created also make a micro economic case for trade and commerce. Ed’s previous media experience was as CEO, Publisher and Owner of Chief Executive Magazine and its related media activities. He has been published in many media venues including the Wall St. Journal, Detroit Free Press and Forbes.com. He has also been a sought after commentator and appeared numerous times on CNBC, MSNBC, Fox News and other media outlets.

Ed’s book, Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula for Taking on Challenges and Achieving Happiness and Success, is available on Amazon in both Kindle and paperback.

Reshaping the Restaurant Industry, One App at a Time

With the pandemic this year, a number of industries were hit hard. Tourism and travel sectors were significantly impacted. Likewise, concerts and entertainment events had to close venues across the globe. But the restaurant sector was among the worst. In March alone, foot traffic inside restaurants declined by 60 percent. This figure climbed as high as 75 percent when lockdowns were in place. And even with reopenings, restaurants have only regained half of their customer losses. As a result, many have had to turn to new restaurant technologies to survive. And there to serve them have been a number of restaurant apps to help.

While the restaurant sector has suffered in the pandemic, restaurant technologies have not. In fact, year-to-date funding of startups providing restaurant apps and platforms is on par with 2019. Over $800 million in venture capital funding has been allotted to startups in this sector. And nearly 50 such companies have benefited from these investments. Many venture capitalists were predicting this would be a hot area even before COVID. And with consumer shifts since the pandemic, it’s clear restaurants must utilize these new platforms in order to make it.

“This was the future we had talked about already, but consumer preference for on-demand and food delivery is shaping everything these days, as they like the convenience of shopping online and having it fulfilled with delivery.” – Ken Chong, Cofounder and CEO, Virtual Kitchen

Restaurant Apps for Delivery and Online Ordering

Two of the major restaurant technologies many businesses are turning to involve delivery and online ordering apps. In most states, the number of dine-in customers dwindled quickly with the threat of COVID. As a result, consumers quickly embraced delivery and takeout options for meals instead. But while UberEATS, Door Dash, and others accommodated these trends, such services were costly. For restaurants, these restaurant delivery services can chew up as much as 30 percent of the profits. Therefore, some restaurants turned to new restaurant apps to help improve their situation.

A blurry photo of the inside of a restaurant
A number of restaurant apps are helping the industry evolve.

Several new online ordering restaurant apps have hit the market recently to aid struggling businesses. For example, SpotOn provides an online ordering solution and also handles payments from customers. BentoBox provides a mobile operations platform that gives restaurants a greater online and website presence for food orders. Numa is an innovative platform that provides text answering, virtual reception, and customer messaging. Text processing of food orders has allowed restaurants to handle orders directly while missing fewer calls. All of these restaurant technologies have allowed many businesses to secure their fair share of the online ordering market.

Other restaurant apps have made it easier for restaurants to accommodate deliveries. For example, Virtual Kitchen provides restaurant technologies that help kitchens become optimized for delivery services. This includes ghost kitchens that only offer virtual services. This provides best practices for efficiency, quality and customer satisfaction when kitchens are making the transition to delivery services. Also, curbFlow is a startup that provides a partner platform between restaurants and food delivery companies. For example, curbFlow identifies improvements, such as having adequate space for drivers at the food site, to enhance delivery proficiency. These have additional benefits beyond improved delivery quality, such as reduced carbon emissions of running cars double-parked. These restaurant technologies have gained a significant number of clients over the last 6 months.

“It is clear that restaurants are reaching for technology because they need to coordinate their workforces so they don’t have employees overlapping, but also to have scheduling software and employee engagement tools. I see a lot of interesting things coming out of this.” – Chang Xu, Partner, Basis Set Ventures

Restaurant Apps for Operations and Data Management

While restaurants need to shift to online, delivery and takeout technologies, they also need to be more efficient. That means streamlining operations and better utilizing data to grow their business. A number of restaurant apps have entered into this segment of the market to aid restaurants during these times. Some even help restaurants attract customers back into their dining areas after becoming accustomed to avoiding them. Given that alfresco dining is “in,” then strategies that allow restaurants to market these offerings are notable. Seated, a restaurant app designed with this in mind, has gained several restaurant clients interested in this type of approach.

Several areas of operations and data management offer potential for improvement in the restaurant sector. Workstream offers restaurant technologies that help with hiring, onboarding, and scheduling staff as part of its restaurant software. Galley Solutions is one of the more intriguing restaurant apps that enhanced operations through better data management. The platform assists restaurants with menu creation, food expenditures, and other operational areas. And ZenReach is a startup that collects customer data by placing its platform above the restaurant’s Wi-Fi layer. With customer email signups and data behaviors, targeted advertising can be better achieved.

“Understanding food costs prior to COVID-19 was a nicety, not a necessity. We think most restaurants don’t understand menu engineering, food costs and profit margin, and don’t have data accessible to make thoughtful and profitable decisions.” – Ian Christopher, Founder, Galley Solutions

A Rapidly Evolving and Dynamic Area

For many restaurants, a number of innovative strategies have been tried through the pandemic. Merchandising has been one strategy along with gourmet meal kits. But thus far, many restaurants have survived because they have shifted to delivery, takeout, and improved operations. Restaurant technologies can help a great deal in these endeavors. Likewise, new restaurant apps are improving allowing data to better guide key decisions while attracting customers. For the foreseeable future, efficiency and expanding services are going to be important strategies for restaurants. Unless businesses in this industry are willing to adapt, they’ll likely find the coming months to be quite a struggle. Fortunately, there are now a number of restaurant apps to help them in these pursuits.

 

The pandemic has proven to be a challenge for everyone. For more on how people have overcome challenges, check out Ed Kopko’s PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success.

Want to Control Your Dreams? Lucid Dream Technologies May Soon Offer Just That

When it comes to sleep and dreaming, health sciences have a tremendous amount to learn. In fact, scientists know so little about the purpose of sleep and dreaming. From a basic perspective, sleep seems to restore our energy levels. Likewise, scientists think REM sleep may reset our brains to allow for better memory and concentration. But how it accomplishes this is a mystery. But despite these hurdles, scientists are pursuing new dream technologies that could change how we approach our sleep.

Researchers at MIT have bee testing a dream control device that might actually let you influence your dream content. If such a device can introduce stimulations at the right time, it has a good chance of altering dream content. Such dream technologies are intriguing because they have the potential to enhance creativity and treat some health conditions. At the same time, they also may provide some deeper insights into this challenging area of health and medicine.

“Targeted dream incubation is a protocol for reactivating memories during sleep in a manner that leads to incorporation of the targeted memory, or related memories, into dream content,” – Adam Haar Horowitz, MIT Media Lab’s Fluid Interfaces Group

Some Basics Regarding Sleep and Dreaming

In terms of sleep, scientists recognize that we go through various sleep stages. From wakefulness, we transition into light sleep before going into deeper sleep. For most people, REM sleep then appears roughly 90 minutes into the night. Our sleep then tends to cycle 3-4 times at night between REM sleep and non-REM sleep. Notably, REM sleep is associated with our most vivid dreams that are often a bit bizarre. But likewise, scientists have now learned dreaming occurs other times as well. And these other dream states might be more susceptible to suggestion than REM states.

In some individuals, it has been found that they can control their dream content during lucid dreaming. Lucid dreaming is a dream state where some level of awareness persists. While this is rare, however, another sleep state also offers dream control abilities. Referred to as hypnogogia, this state occurs right as we are drifting off to sleep. This knowledge is what has encouraged some researchers to experiment with a dream control device with great potential. With advancing wearable technologies, opportunities appear to be emerging in this hot new field.

“Every benefit shown to be correlated to dreaming deserves an experiment on whether it can be causally shown to come from dreaming. This ranges from past work on nightmares and PTSD to current work on language learning in sleep, or creativity and eureka moments in dreams.” – Adam Haar Horowitz

Recent Research Using Dream Technologies

The most recent research involving these types of dream technologies occurred out of MIT’s Medial Lab’s Fluid Interfaces. This division tests wearable systems that enhance human performance. In essence, the tested 25 adults who were recorded during repeated nap sessions. Prior to thee nap sessions, participants recorded audio instructions in their own voice. These recording where then used to stimulate the participants as they drifted off into hypnagogia. After each time they were awoke, they provided recollections of their most recent dreams.

A person with their brain hooked up to a computer
Want a dream control device to make your sleep time productive? It could happen soon.

The dream control device used was called Dormio.  Basically, the device was strapped to one hand and measured heart rate, finger relaxation, and skin electrical changes. Based on this data, Dormio could tell when participants entered hypnagogia. At that moment, the dream control device played the pre-recorded audio and then the participants’ recollections. Overall, two-thirds of the participants reported having the audio content incorporated into their dreams.

“Dreaming about a specific theme seems to offer benefits post-sleep, such as on creativity tasks related to this theme. This is unsurprising in light of historical figures like Mary Shelley or Salvador Dalí, who were inspired creatively by their dreams.” – Adam Haar Horowitz

Potential Applications of Dream Technologies

How dream technologies might be used in the future is unclear. However, it’s clear that this will be an evolving field in the near future. From a clinical perspective, conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) might benefit from a dream control device. For example, a dream control device could introduce measured content to facilitate acclimation. This would gradually reduce the stress perceived with a particular dream or nightmare image. The same might also be beneficial for other anxiety conditions.

This isn’t the only use of dream technologies in the future. For a long time, dreams have been recognized as a source of inspiration and creativity. With a dream control device, someone might be able to create their own self-inspiration, and perhaps focus more on their Bold Goals. (For more on Bold Goals, check out Ed Kopko’s PROJECT BOLD LIFE: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success.] Or they may be able to encourage a more creative perspective. This opens the door for digital therapeutics products that might be used in combination with a dream control device. These types of applications could introduce a burgeoning new field for consumers of all ages. And the potential applications seem endless.

Science Fiction Come to Life?

Notably, some classic movies have considered how dream control might affect everyday life. Nightmare of Elm Street, of course, had Freddy Krueger running around in other characters’ dreams. And in Inception, Leonardo di Caprio steals trade secrets from others’ dream subconscious. But with the dream control device being tested at MIT, the potential is a bit more constructive. Dream technologies that serve to enhance humankind’s abilities are the goal of these pursuits. In this regard, the film, Limitless, might be a better target for any dream control device being considered. But in any case, dream technologies could be one of the most exciting future innovations to hit the market.