Saritha Rai of the NY Times chats about how India, Singapore, and so forth are becoming low-cost surgery centers for global patients – including Americans. It’s just too costly here for most folks. And it’s the same doctors you’d see here, because most of them trained here in America. It’s just the surgery center is a, ahh, bit remote.
I don’t know if anyone has noticed, but this trend impacts the development and deployment of new techologies in health care significantly. Up until recently, the telemedicine craze has dealt with providing medical resources to poor areas more effectively, like an Indian reservation (common example). But the problem is there is no relationship with the doctors doing remote diagnostics, there is no high bandwidth connectivity, and there is no technical maintanance at the remote end. In other words, there are far too many other factors to make this work in practice at this time. William Jolitz spoke to this vexing dilemma in TeleMedicine Journal in the mid-90’s.
But if patients are “outsourcing themselves” as Rai describes, telemedicine becomes very practical. The high speed lines exist, the monies to maintain the technologies at either end exist, and they could use telemedicine as a diagnostic / relationship building tool before the patient flies to India (or Singapore or whereever) for actual treatment.
I think this will be a real trend here. And it completely changes the orientation of the healthcare technology industry from records to communications!