Alexa, are you listening?

By: Christine Dura

The future of healthcare is here. Does it look like R2-D2 in scrubs? Maybe not, but we are moving in that direction. And that future is ripe with medical business opportunities.

Technology is a guilty pleasure for some, a necessity for pretty much all. The newness, the “spark” that occurs when we use something novel and “shiny,” is linked to the spread of automation into new areas. Orthopedics is no exception.

While many physicians are still grappling with electronic medical records (EMR), some are pushing ahead with technologies previously viewed as “way down the pipeline.” And, according to an Accenture analysis, artificial intelligence (AI) is the new operating system.

For example, researchers from Sweden recently published a promising study in Acta Orthopaedica indicating that AI networks can do as good of a job as orthopedic surgeons at reading X-rays!

Using 256,000 wrist, hand and ankle radiographs, the research team classified them into the following categories: fracture, laterality, body part and exam view. Then the team called upon two senior orthopedic surgeons — and five AI networks — to assess the radiographs.

The top-performing computer network trumped the humans by 1 percent, with the computer showing a fracture diagnosis accuracy of 83 percent, alongside the humans, who came in at 82 percent.

Co-author Max Gordon, M.D., Ph.D., a fellow at Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, indicated in a Medscape article that the next step will be for AI systems to use images to assess the chances of a particular surgery resulting in pain eradication (Patient A: 40 percent, Patient B: 85 percent).

Alejandro Badia, M.D., Co-Founder & Chief Medical Officer of OrthoNOW, says, “As we move into the realm of artificial intelligence (AI), what is required is a bridge between the future and the past. This bridge should be comprised of thought leaders who appreciate not only the benefits of these technologies, but the enormity of the scope and the reality that we don’t yet know what AI may bring to the field of orthopedics. We must balance the ‘buzz’ about AI with wisdom.”

Home Health Help

Patients want to get home after surgery. And with doctors being monitored so closely for complications and readmission, they want patients to stay at home. Behold, a non-intrusive assistant with a friendly voice… Alexa (or Joe if you want something in the baritone range).

“Alexa, lift my leg.” Alright, maybe not, but she can remind patients to take their post-operative medications. Indeed, a patient can say, “Alexa, remind me to take my medicine each day at 9am and 9pm.”

A May 19, 2017, article by Isaac Christensen quoted The Center for Technology and Aging, Oakland, CA, as saying, “…there are a variety of devices and equipment to help individuals perform a task and prevent injury. Those going through physical therapy, such as spinal decompression therapy, can also benefit from assistive technologies.”

Plenty of possible devices, that is, creating an explosion of medical business opportunities.

According to an Oct. 16, 2017, blog post,  Amazon teamed up with Merck and Luminary Labs on the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, and has awarded a $250,000 prize to a start-up to develop a voice app to help patients manage type 2 diabetes.

So why not an Alexa Osteoporosis Challenge?

And with Dr. Alexa in the house via WebMD, orthopedic knowledge is just off the tip of your tongue.

“It’s pretty darn likely that our grandkids will laugh at us for using a keyboard,” Ben Greenberg, WebMD’s Vice President of Mobile Products and User Experience, told Orthofeed.com. “Speech is such a more natural, hands-free, convenient and faster way to communicate.”

Dr. Badia adds, “Our goal at OrthoNOW is not only to keep patients moving, but to keep their treatment moving in a smooth manner. With our OrthoNOW app, patients can easily locate our nearest facility, alert staff that they are en route, and even send images of the injury ahead of time. And the soon-to-be incorporated telemedicine feature will allow me to engage with my patients even when they are not physically at the center; the power it has to foment a doctor/patient relationship regardless of where you’re located at is simply outstanding.”

Alexa is also being welcomed into operating rooms, with physicians at Massachusetts General Hospital taking a look at how to use the device to stay on point with surgical safety checklists.

As we move into these realms, the landscape for truly innovative medical business opportunities is ripe for new thinking and action.

And the possibilities are endless.

OK, Alexa, I’m done with this blog post…turn off the lights, please.

OrthoNOW is the first and only Orthopedic franchise. Contact Christine Dura at [email protected] for more information about franchise opportunities.

Christine has over 25 years of quantifiable executive management and franchise related leadership experience within the US and internationally with notable franchise startups in the service, technology, retail, food, health and wellness, financial service, medical care, technology and professional services.   As a Senior Franchise Executive and Entrepreneur, Ms. Dura has been both an individual contributor and has successfully led world-class teams.

Ms. Dura excels at partnering with all core business operations to significantly increase the company’s foot print, expand market share, and generate sustainable revenue and EBIT gains.  Her proven successes, combined with her Master Degree in Training and Development, have shaped Ms. Dura’s uncanny ability to identify opportunities, build mutually rewarding partnerships and produce remarkable results. 

In addition, as a four-time Master and Unit Franchise Owner, Ms. Dura is in a very unique position to leverage her experiences and reputation at all levels in franchising along with her vast personal and professional investor network to drive immediate and long term results.   As OrthoNOW’s Chief Development Officer her role is to identify critical gaps in franchise growth and implement strategies to drive results. Her unique background allows her to leverage past experiences and solid reputation to spearhead OrthoNOW’s national expansion plans.