News Feature | April 4, 2017

Will Robots Redesign Healthcare Policy?

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

Robotic Systems For Food Safety

How robotics has the power to transform healthcare.

It’s no secret technology has almost single-handedly created the modern healthcare industry — from maintaining medical records to analyzing a diagnosis. The growth of artificial intelligence has the power to continue this forward movement, transforming healthcare and its related policies.

Ed Allera, a partner at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney whose covers new product development, hi-tech products and medical devices, provides some clear insight into how technology will continue influencing healthcare. Robotics is one of those technologies, transforming healthcare is by reducing costs.

In an email, Allera explains, “Healthcare systems are looking for every conceivable way to control costs and add patients. The cost control measures are taking many forms as most doctors are now employed by healthcare systems. The systems are able to impose medical, scientific, and testing standards on employed physicians far more effectively than on independent physicians. The systems are able to become more efficient healthcare providers by using technology to minimize human and medical error.”

He addresses the potential healthcare technology policy changes that will be introduced under new head of HHS, Tom Price. Allera writes, “Medicine is moving from the Mom and Pops age to the corporate age. In one sense, medical practice today is like legal practices in the 70’s and 80’s. Technological growth, payor demands, and the advantage of scale led to the restructuring of the practice of law. Many would argue that the practice of medicine has already passed the inflection point, and the technological leaps and payor demands will only accelerate regardless of the government’s role.”

Price will be striving to improve access to healthcare, Allera says. “Dr. Price has focused on removing the government from between the physician and the patient, and he wants to deal with what he believes is uncontrolled medical malpractice litigation against physicians. As a practical matter, the private payors and technology may have mooted his big issues.”

As Politico explains, “Through regulations and other actions, Price has leverage to dramatically change the U.S. healthcare system. Even without changes in the law, HHS can significantly undermine Obamacare; it can also change some aspects of Medicaid, shift American research priorities, and allow pharmaceutical companies more leeway to market drugs. Given the breadth of policy options available, Price will have to choose what he wants go after — but his background as a surgeon suggests that he’s likely to be involved in many policy decisions across the department.”