4 slides from Mary Meeker's Internet Trends reports should be a warning for tech companies that want to disrupt healthcare
- Mary Meeker just put out her Internet Trends report for 2019. The annual report has been called "Silicon Valley's Bible" because of how influential it is.
- One portion of the slides looks at trends in healthcare, namely that the field is becoming more digital.
- But broadly, the portrait Meeker paints of the US healthcare system also looks a lot like one she drew half a decade ago: an expensive, wasteful system with lots of room for improvement.
- That slow-changing nature of healthcare should put tech companies and others aiming to disrupt the industry on alert, because it could make their jobs harder.
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Mary Meeker's annual Internet Trends report is out, and it paints a hopeful picture of a more digital, less wasteful healthcare industry.
The slide deck has been called "Silicon Valley's Bible" because of its highly influential nature, but you might want to take its healthcare predictions lightly.
In this year's iteration, Meeker highlighted promising technological trends in healthcare, like the use of virtual doctors in telemedicine.
But if you take a dive into the archives of Meeker's reports, which date back to 1995, it's also clear that little has changed about the US healthcare system in many years.
That should put tech companies and others seeking to upend the healthcare system on alert. Healthcare is slow to change, making the task ahead for those looking to enter or disrupt it much more difficult.
The shift from healthcare to health-tech
Meeker's latest report makes a compelling case about that. She cites data about increasing consumer use of digital health tools and numbers from companies like genetic-sequencing firm Illumina, doctor-search platform Zocdoc, and drug-delivery startup Nurx.
But prior reports have also had a similarly hopeful take on US healthcare. Back in 2014, for instance, Meeker predicted an "inflection point" for US healthcare, thanks to reforms in the Affordable Care Act aimed at moving health providers like hospitals to electronic health record systems.
There was a similar prediction around 2013, when reporter Steven Brill's groundbreaking article "Why Medical Bills are Killing Us" came out on the cover of Time. In a slide that year pointing to the cover story, Meeker wrote, "right story, great reporting...perhaps, right time."
As a highly-regulated industry where peoples' lives are at stake, healthcare is known for changing slowly - as it should, many experts argue.
Yet at a broad level, the way Meeker described the US health system hasn't changed all that much in half a decade.
Take a look:
In 2014, Meeker's Internet Trends report described a costly, wasteful healthcare system.
Five years later, Meeker's 2019 report still describes an expensive, inefficient system.
Meeker's 2014 report pointed out "reasons for optimism" about the healthcare system due to digitization.
Meeker's 2019 Internet Trends Report highlighted the same theme. It points to a trend of digitization in healthcare, which she said consumers were driving.
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