Connected Health: If Not Now, When?

As an avid reader, I love a good story, especially when it has to do with innovation and new beginnings.

Last year, I read an interesting tale of horses in London, England, in the 1800s. At the time, this city was the most populated in the world, with transportation based primarily on horses. As anyone who has recently walked around the Old Port of Montreal knows, horses have a very particular drawback: manure.

With 50,000 horses in London in 1894, newspapers were projecting that if no solution could be found, within 50 years the city would be nine feet deep in manure. The problem was not specific to London, but was also experienced in cities like New York, where the horses numbered at least 100,000.

In 1898, at the first International Urban Planning meeting, a central topic of conversation was, how do we fix our manure problem? When the meeting adjourned, the consensus was that no solution existed.

Enter Henry Ford, who devised a process of building motor cars at affordable prices. Electric trams and motor buses soon appeared on the streets, replacing horse-drawn buses. By 1912, the once seemingly insurmountable problem of manure had been resolved, as motorized vehicles became the main source of transportation.

In the face of problems that seem to have no apparent solution, the great horse crisis of 1894 serves as an inspiration against despair. Often, necessity truly is the mother of invention—and the solution is far more unexpected than could ever be imagined.

If we apply this story to our current situation at the gateway of connected health, it’s only natural for us to ask ourselves, why implement it now? The answer is far simpler than we might initially have thought.

From deciphering the genome to the arrival of new digital innovators and the digitization of almost everything in our day-to-day lives, we risk that health care will be left behind in this revolution, if we don’t leap into the digital world. That would be a far scarier fate than whatever lies ahead of us.

People are now living longer and are being diagnosed with more complex issues, but the technology to treat and care for our healthcare users has not kept pace to meet these growing challenges. If a solution is not found, we risk inadvertently reliving the horse-related conundrum of an earlier century!

And so I ask those who are fearful of the necessary changes that lie ahead, if not now, when?