The Uber Model: Better Healthcare Through Improved Patient Access

It’s hard to imagine, but America’s healthcare system is rare amongst other industrialized countries. This is mostly due to the privatized model that we have been conditioned to deal with our whole lives. It seems that uniqueness is not equated with success; our country is consistently ranked at the bottom of healthcare systems based on measures of quality, access, and efficiency.

The United States is unequivocally the most expensive health care system in the world as well, yet patient satisfaction remains embarrassingly low. It’s astounding that this trend continues in this country despite the increasing amount of technology and innovation driven citizens.

It’s time to demand better health care. Making it more inexpensive is undoubtedly an end goal, but providing more accessible and efficient means of acquiring it are achievements that can be more immediate.

How can this be done, you may ask? The answer lies with Uber.

Now, you might be saying “I thought Uber was within the transportation industry?” Of course you’re correct, but the same model can be applied to the health care world.

Uber has been tremendously successful because of its streamlined, convenient, and accessible approach for users. If patients started demanding the same from providers, the problems of absurdly long wait times and unattainable access to healthcare would be improved. Just as Uber allows users to see available transportation within their immediate radius, providers could allow patients to see open appointments very near to them.

A disproportionally large percentage of Americans depend exclusively on their primary care provider for appointments and referrals, often subsequently resulting in waiting for weeks or even months just to be seen. A recent study published by the Washington Post illuminates the significant problem of wait times; the average wait time for all specialties, including family practice, was 18.5 days for new patients in metropolitan areas, with even longer averages in more rural areas. Some attribute this to a physician shortage, while others believe that the improving economy has caused more citizens to book appointments. Either way, wait times are a trend that’s expected to rise in this country, that is, unless something is done to disrupt the problem.

The time is now to begin integrating more technology into the ancient habits of America’s healthcare industry. Uber has revolutionized the way our country thinks of individual transportation services. Gone are the days where you might stand for ten minutes trying to hail a taxi. These same improvements of convenience and access are at the fingertips of the nation’s healthcare industry. Now we must make this disruption happen.

5 Ways 3D Printing will Change Your Life

A ball gown, a gun, and an ear. What do these objects have in common? All three can be created on a 3D printer; a computer-directed machine capable of building any object layer by layer. This new, rapidly evolving technology has been used in the aerospace and automotive industries for decades. Now, this revolutionary technology is expanding into the home and could change our lives in many unexpected ways. According to Forbes, the market is expected to reach 21 billion dollars worldwide by 2020. Here are five ways we expect 3D printers to directly affect our lives:

1.    Hair and Makeup products

For years, beauty companies have struggled to find safe ways to test their products. Countries like China demand animal testing in specialist products such as hair dyes, sunscreen, and antiperspirants. L’Oreal recently partnered with Organavo, a human tissue company, to print 3D human skin for product testing. With this new 3D printing technology, we can all look forward to a day when our makeup and hair products are tested on printed skin rather than mice and rabbits.

2.    Pets

TurboRoo the Chihuahua and Derby the dog were both born with deformed front legs. Through the use of 3D printing technology, both learned how to walk. Pushing with his two back legs, TurboRoo now effectively moves on a cart that is custom-built to his body. Derby runs two to three miles a day thanks to a set of 3D printed prosthetic legs. Using 3D Printing technology is faster and more efficient than sculpting new legs, makes the prosthetics easy to replace, and gives both of these dogs a chance at an active life.

3.    Human Organs

Scientists have successfully printed human ears, noses, skull bones, jawbones, tracheas, skin sections, bladders, arteries, and fat. Larger, more complex organs like livers and hearts are in the process of being developed. Today, over one hundred thousand people in the United States are waiting for an organ donation. Printing functional organs will save thousands of lives by allowing patients to receive organ donations fairly quickly instead of being placed on an extensive and potentially fatal wait-list.

4.    Teeth

3D printing is revolutionizing dentistry. 3D printers are capable of creating teeth, crowns, veneers, and inlays in a single appointment. A digital camera placed in the patient’s mouth generates a 3D image of the damaged tooth onscreen, design software quickly fits the image to the new part, and a 3D printer in the office prints the new tooth immediately. Whereas this process would have previously taken multiple appointments and countless hours, with 3D printing technology, it is now efficient, easy, and reliable.

5.    Food

Even food can be printed! A NASA-funded project created a 3D printer that makes pizza. The machine has three nozzles to print dough, cheese, and sauce. By using these ingredients as the “ink” of the machine, layer-by-layer the printer slowly builds a pizza good enough to eat. Chocolate, carrots, cookies, ravioli; the list of foods that can be printed, like the list of opportunities this technology provides, is limitless.