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Digital Health's Blockbuster to Netflix Moment


When I woke up this morning and read the news about the Teledoc and Livongo merger, I thought of 2 people, both advocates for a shift to virtual healthcare for years - Dr Eric Topol and Vinod Khosla.

Reading Dr Topol's "The Patient will see you now" forever changed how I looked at traditional brick and mortar healthcare. Dr Topol has been promoting (and using) virtual health as a methodology for democratizing healthcare in a country in which many either lack access or struggle to afford. While Teledoc and Livongo does not supply the silver bullet in transitioning to virtual coverage, as the "Dr of Digital Health", I can only imagine Dr Topol must be pleased with the progress.

Years ago, Vinod Khosla wrote a piece which was, at the time, viewed as controversial entitled "20% doctor included". The premise was, in the future, 80% of current tasks completed by physicians would be replaced by AI and Machine Learning; and the 20% remaining with a physician would focus on empathy and ethics....items in which a machine cannot duplicate. At the time, Khosla's "20% doctor" was viewed as an insult to many physician associations. However, similar to Topol, Kholsa simply wants science to provide fundamental coverage (e.g. AI can take in 100s of medical white papers associated with oncology overnight and apply via Machine Learning) and allow the majority of Dr's to help in caring, empathy and other emotional support that's lacking in transactional brick and mortar healthcare today.

While both of their dreams have not been fully realized, I do think today is a day in which both men can nod in appreciation of the steps taken towards virtual healthcare.

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