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Healthcare problems to solve

Maybe you’re excited about all the free time that’s in store for you after early retirement but worried that you might not have something meaningful to do in this world. The good news is that there are a ton of problems to solve in this world. From transportation to hunger to poverty to healthcare to environmental issues.

No matter what problem you solve, there likely will be a payor who would be more than happy to fill your pockets for solving that problem.

Manage global warming and you’ll get money from governments. Tackle longevity and you’ll get paid by consumers. Lots of options and and lots of payers.

To figure out which problems are worth solving we can look at which big payers are willing to throw money at the problem. Y Combinator is a good candidate for this and they have published their list of problems worth solving which they are willing to fund.

I picked out a few from their list which will apply to medical professionals. And then I pulled some more from Jay Zaveri’s list at Social Capital.

1. AI

I want to start with this because artificial intelligence can revolutionize medicine. Got a patient who is on a SABA and having wild glycemic swings or multiple COPD exacerbations? AI tools could sniff out these patients and make suggestions on medication management.

A patient with increasing Cr’s might be pegged by the AI enhanced EHR to be at risk for CKD. An order for renal US and urine microalbumin might be placed without ever needing to consult a physician.

2. Biotech

DNA seems big, so is genetic modeling, whether for disease prediction or medication optimization.

Wearable technology or technology which can be taken from the clinic to the home is also big.

Think, ebola home testing or home peripheral smears.

3. Use of retail space

Healthcare needs physical space – all the telemedicine in the world won’t replace the F2F visit.

With all the retail space sitting empty, commercial landlords will have to move away from their ridiculous leasing models. Zoning will have to change on the gov’t front.

How could hospitals and clinics expand their footprint while saving patients money? Mobile vans? Health pods? Pop-up clinics?

4. EHR security

Whatever technology you build can be hacked. How can EHR’s be hack-proofed?

This topic dives deep into where our health information is stored and who is responsible for protecting it.

5. Education

Medicine requires a ton of education and it’s costly as fuck. But with some parents skipping the traditional spendy education system, why can’t we get some medical education to individuals sooner?

Whether it’s exposure or an early start, medical education is no different than any other education. Medicine might be perfect for one person while PA or RN or PharmD is better suited.

6. Software solutions

We don’t have to have AI in medicine, we can automate and use predictive models to optimize healthcare.

Why are we perpetually understaffed during cold and flu seasons? Why do patients wait 5 hours in the ER? Why do patients wait 48 hours to get an email reply? Why the fuck does it take 45 minutes for your goddamn herpes medicine to be filled at the pharmacy??

Why can’t an EKG machine read an EKG properly? It’s a bunch of squiggly lines – it’s the least that software should be able to do.

7. Health diagnostics

Some disease are really hard to diagnose (rare leukemias) , others are stupidly easy (URI’s). Taking the load off of the clinicians will allow them more time with a patient which is a huge satisfier for all.

A patient will go through the medical system with a spinal abscess, brain mets, diabetes, CHF, and renal disease without ever being diagnosed until they end up in the ER.

8. Preventative medicine

Most patients in the US already have a lot of health data because we are among the highest utilizers of healthcare. The data is available but either it’s excessively protected or nobody knows what to do with it.

Using the data can help with disease prevention and more efficient disease management.

9. Human memory

Even when the mind starts failing, it can manage recalling emotions and distant memories. It’s the short-term, the easy shit, which starts fading.

The short-term stuff should be the easier problem to solve with technology. Got ideas?

10. Longevity

The longevity fetish is growing in the US. While Americans are obsessed with how old people live in some city in Japan, others are trying to live their life to its fullest.

These past 2 years of being retired from medicine have been some of the most enjoyable fucking years of my life.

Take me now!

….okay, maybe a little longer.

We shun death and punish those who try to hasten their death. If cancer decides to take your life, that’s okay.  But if you try to take your life after a cancer diagnosis, that’s a problem.

Idiots.

11. Employing the poor

If healthcare is one of the most wasteful sectors in the US, how can we direct some of those dollars to the poorest in the country?

What tasks, jobs, or responsibilities could be given to these individuals to perform in order to improve healthcare? How can their productivity be measured?

12. Predicting disease

If I follow 100M individuals and track everything they do, eat, and snort, could I extrapolate that information and predict who else will get what?

How can we use technology, whether new or existing, to track the most minute of things in people’s lives and the take that longitudinal data to help model disease prediction?

13. Infectious diseases

C. Diff in adults and sepsis in children are often caused by antibiotic use. How can we treat infectious diseases without the use of antibiotics?

Probiotics are used for children with gastroenteritis. Fecal transplants are used for recurrent C Diff. Other ideas?

14. Continuous non-invasive monitoring

We have a lot of data in medicine but it’s dirty data. It’s data collected by nurses and physicians and then cleaned up for the lawyers.

What if we could collect all sorts of patient related data non-invasively. Then take the data from the healthy ones, compare it to those who end up with disease – could that help us with future disease prediction?

Don’t worry about data overload or what kind of data it is. AI can sort through that and determine which is relevant and which is just noise. Muscle tone? Brain activity? Peristalsis? Electrical conductivity of tissue? Skin temp? Sweat content?

15. Teaching health

My jaw drops that in 2018 people still go to the doctor for cold & flu’s.

How can we deliver health education to the public beyond telling them to ask their doctor for Viagra?

Our public health system is in fact fucking impressive compared to many other countries. So how can we make it even better?

16. Death prediction

Can we predict exactly how much time a patient has who is living with a terminal disease?

This matters because a small percentage of the population uses up the majority of healthcare. If we can predict it then we can allocate those resources somewhere else and focus on quality of life in those last few days/weeks.

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