ProGRESS Already!

This week’s economist has two articles updating us on some windmills technofiles have been tilting at for a decade or so.

First is the health care industry. The article itself is a typically bland offering but, in fairness, the subject is tough to spice up. Health care, like insurance, is a human interaction business and innovation here is glacial.

My mother’s an occupational therapist in a rural area and she spends a lot of time traveling to peoples’ homes delivering care. I’ve learned from her that, in health care, mobile technology is a red herring. This is a solution in search of a problem.

Now, she’s on board in principle. It’s extremely hard to attribute the economic benefits of positive health care outcomes. Costs, however, are very easy to measure, so any countervailing force there is extremely welcome. But does it work?

Automating administrative records only really matters when you need to retrieve those records, usually fairly far into the future. A heavily discounted benefit.

The costs of implementation, however, are significant. To implement an ipad into my mother’s visits to her patients would require replacing pen and paper (with, I kid you not, carbon copies beneath it) with an ipad, a portable printer and keyboard. All while touring this heavily debilitated senior’s house and educating him/her and family. Not any time soon.

It’s always possible that some bonehead will legislate a technological revolution and massively inflate the relative price of health care but, barring that, we’re decades away.

Second is the media industry.

This problem is so strange, isn’t it? We all know where the business is going: on-demand media consumption packages across multiple channels. The problem is that we think of content companies in the wrong way. Much like insurance, the people who control everything the distributors, not the creators. These new online-related distribution models are direct competition for them.

Of course they’re resisting!

Until Netflix and Apple build enough scale to genuinely compete for original content, the model won’t change.

Porno leads the MSM: fewer distribution channels, smaller pie and less spend on overt promotion. In 50 years, viral distribution networks will be king (and free!).

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