By Jemima Morrow and Ravi Ruparel | Published: 15th July 2021
This month we sat down with Barry Shrier, the founder and CEO of GIANT Health, a rapidly expanding global community of everyone who’s business is health, tech, and innovation.
We spoke to Barry about his views on the scalability of education in the healthcare industry, where it’s at currently, and where he believes it will go.
What is GIANT Health? How is your organisation helping people to become better educated about health?
GIANT stands for Global Innovation And New Technology. We are a platform proposition organisation with a global community of nearly 200,000 people. We serve everybody who’s business is healthcare, tech, and innovation.
GIANT runs a weekly newsletter and live TV show called Health Innovator Live TV, as well as running an annual event. The GIANT Health Event is a festival of medical education and tech innovation training, bringing together all in the world of healthcare and helping them to learn about new innovations. It was named Europe’s largest, most valuable healthcare technology event by The Financial Times.
Education is at the centre of helping patients and healthcare professionals. How do you see Digital Therapeutics helping to evolve health education for both?
Digital Therapeutics are evidence-based software programmes to prevent, manage, or treat a medical disorder or disease by collecting clinical evidence and undertaking trials for the sake of creating new therapies that have a digital element to them. It’s clearly an exciting area! One of the exciting areas is the challenge in medical education for patients is adherence, as around 35% of patients don’t take their prescribed medication according to their prescription. Digital therapeutics can be used to help patients learn about the value of why they should be taking the prescribed drug according to the doctor’s prescription, for example, using smartphone engagement to send reminders to take the drugs and to take them in the correct way. Additionally, digital therapeutics help healthcare professionals to communicate with patients and ensure that they are following medical instruction. We are starting to see various digital prescriptions where education is literally a medicine!
What are your views on the fact that in some countries where healthcare is very much needed, the technological infrastructure isn’t advanced?
The inequalities in healthcare are vast. In the developing world, some rural areas have no doctors or healthcare professionals. The challenge lies in giving access to medical information, which can be done via innovative new technology. A lot of early stage healthcare tech companies from around the world are creating apps in local languages that aid healthcare workers in learning about, diagnosing and treating medical conditions and illnesses.
The beauty of technology is that it’s scalable and it allows for the delivery of education and training on a massive scale, which is in fitting with our goal of improving the health and wellbeing of people around the world.
Can you summarise your views on scalability in the healthcare industry?
Education is the foundation of the delivery of healthcare services. There’s nothing more important in healthcare. Recently I was speaking to a member of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation who told me that there is infinite growing demand for health services in all cultures worldwide and if the number of medical schools, medical graduates and junior doctors was tripled, it still wouldn’t be enough to cover the demand.
This is where scalability comes in… Our Chairman Prof Shafi Ahmed was the first person in the world to broadcast a live surgical procedure to 25,000 Chinese medical students halfway across the world from him. It shows that individuals can reach and educate such a vast audience via the use of technology. I greatly look forward to seeing how much good we can achieve in the healthcare industry by harnessing the power of technology and scalability.
We are really looking forward to seeing more entrepreneurs develop digital education in health whether it is for professionals, patients or carers. Whilst we know the technology is wildly scalable, we must also recognise local regulation that can cause delays to global roll-outs.
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