Will Technology Cure Health Care — Or Kill It?

Obama says technology will save health care, and it’s true that IT is quickly becoming a medical resource: Google, which recently launched an online medical records service, claims that online search is where consumers turn first for health information. Computerization can eliminate much of the 30 percent of medical costs that are due to inefficiency, according to Dr. Dean Ornish, founder of the nonprofit Preventive Medicine Research Institute. And advanced diagnostics will encourage prevention and reduce costly reactive treatment.
Two weeks ago, a small green box showed up in my mail. Inside was a “spit kit” my wife had ordered me from DNA sequencing startup 23andme. Within a few minutes, I’d completed and returned the sample. In a few weeks, I’ll be able to analyze my DNA online. What if I find something I don’t like?
Thanks to technology, such diagnostics are now within the reach of consumers. As more people test themselves, doctors and insurers may face the additional burden of just-in-case surgery and a “previvor” mentality. So, will technology cure health care, or kill it?
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What Do Slide, 23andMe & Chemdex Share?

Max Levchin, well known for being a co-founder of both Paypal and Slide, as well as for imitating Tom Cruise on “The GigaOM Show,” has just become the first person to get on the cover of magazine Portfolio. The magazine’s editors recently threw a little dinner for him, James Hong (co-founder of HotorNot) and Linda Avey (co-founder of 23andMe), all of whom are featured in this month’s cover story, “Brilliant Then and Now.”

I was seated next to Linda Avey at dinner, and she and I got into a conversation about Internet 1.0 and how things were during the go-go 1990s. She told me she had worked for Chemdex, a chemicals-focused B2B exchange, that I once wrote about for Forbes.com. (I loved this company, mostly because deep down I am a chemistry geek.) Ironically enough, Chemdex was co-founded by David Perry and Jon Callaghan, who happens to be a partner at True Ventures and sits on the board of the parent company of this blog. Small world, ain’t it?

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