Secure Medical recently interviewed Irma Rastegayeva, cofounder of Boston-based eViRa Health, a business-to-business marketing consultancy. What follows is a condensed and edited version of that exchange.
Q: As a co-founder at eViRa Health, can you briefly discuss the company’s mission?
A: At eViRa Health, we are digital storytellers with a purpose. We live at the intersection of emerging technologies, healthcare, and patient experience. Our mission is to inform, educate, and inspire the vast healthcare community. We use the power of storytelling and the reach of new media to engage with our audiences, who are healthcare stakeholders spanning health technology, providers, patients, patient advocates and caregivers, payers, pharma and medical device companies, researchers, policymakers, and healthcare executives.
Q: Looking ahead five years, which digital technologies do you expect will most profoundly shape the delivery of healthcare in America and elsewhere around the globe?
A: In my recent 2020 Digital Health Predictions article, I highlighted eight technology trends that have been gaining momentum and are poised to accelerate in 2020 and beyond. I believe that in five years, many of them will become increasingly prevalent and a routine part of healthcare delivery. I’ve organized my list of predictions by their position along the continuum of care, with innovations at the front end of the healthcare continuum having the biggest potential impact on health outcomes and healthcare costs. Those trends are
- Disease prevention
- Reducing employer healthcare costs
- Artificial intelligence for early diagnostics
- Digital therapeutics
- Care personalization with 3D printing
- Creating alternative to opioids
- Connected healthcare and the internet of medical things
- Digitizing clinical trials
Other technologies that I believe will profoundly shape the way healthcare is delivered in the United States and around the globe include connectivity and telemedicine, particularly as they will be facilitated and enhanced by advanced wireless technologies, and mixed reality. [According to MarketWatch.com, Kenneth Research projects that the global augmented and virtual reality market in healthcare will reach $8.5 billion by 2025.]
Q: In a LinkedIn article about the role of AI in healthcare that you coauthored with Evan Kirstel, you quote Bill Gates about the tendency to overestimate the magnitude of short-term change while underestimating long-term change. What are your realistic short-term expectations for AI as a force for change in the healthcare industry?
A: While “AI” has become a buzzword that seems to be ubiquitous, it really is an important technology that is ushering in a new era of transformation and rapid growth across every industry. In healthcare, which is my particular area of expertise, artificial intelligence is increasingly being viewed as the “nervous system” and the engine for the growth of this sector of the economy. Artificial intelligence and machine learning can enhance every stage of patient care, from research and discovery to diagnosis to selection of therapy to the monitoring of treatment progress.
Q: As a self-described “influencer” and “digital storyteller,” what sort of health-related online content is most likely to engage public interest and trigger positive consumer response?
A: I would recommend informative and educational content that is properly targeted to a given audience, can be easily understood, and can be realistically applied. I think it’s essential to go beyond “edutainment” to share accurate, relevant, timely, useful, and actionable information. To achieve that goal, I would encourage using a variety of formats and mediums to meet people where they are and tap into their preferred methods of consuming information, be it text, images, audio, or video.
Q: What forces do you blame for the public’s relatively slow acceptance of telehealth/telemedicine as a viable alternative to the conventional face-to-face practice of medicine?
A: Uncertainty about the coverage of such services by traditional health insurers and the regulatory environment at both the state and federal levels have been key factors in slow acceptance of telemedicine by both healthcare providers and healthcare consumers as well. We see signs of growing acceptance as some of these questions and uncertainties are resolved.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
By Don Amerman