Even those of us fortunate enough to have good health insurance will often put off seeing a doctor when we probably should. Often it’s simply a matter of logistics. We feel like we can’t take the time off work, or arrange transportation, or get childcare to make the trip.
But what if the doctor just comes you? In a self-driving car.
That’s the idea behind Aim, a new concept by the Seattle based design firm Artefact. Aim is a new concept for health care, built from the ground up–one in which you wouldn’t have to worry whether or not your insurance covers an MRI or you could instantly glean whether that expensive, out-of-pocket drug will really alleviate your chronic back pain. “Aim is about creating an environment or a system where more positive health outcomes can occur,” says Matthew Jordan, executive creative director at Artefact. “More engagement with patients, technology with clinicians, and transparency from a standpoint of economic value.”
Aim imagines a near future in which health care is not a destination–a visit to the hospital–but a continuum of care. It starts in your bathroom, with a smart mirror, toothbrush, and toilet that can keep track of your vitals, like a more advanced Fitbit. If there’s a problem, the next step is an autonomous doctor car, dispatched to your home or place of work, that self-directs you to take more tests. And only if it’s medically necessary will you need to see a doctor. A doctor, who, incidentally, will have an AI assistant who has scanned what may be years of your diagnostic trend lines, compared to those of your peers, to pre-suggest diagnoses and treatments.
To anyone following the evolving health care sector, a lot of these ideas will feel familiar. It’s long been postulated that wearables, collecting our data, could help doctors see trends otherwise lost in the single data point they might see about you, during a visit, in a given year–if only our doctors weren’t already drowning in poorly organized data.
But the most radical bit of the concept is the self-driving car. What may appear to be a gimmick is actually a carefully designed space. “The vehicle provides an in-between space,” says Jordan. It’s like a CVS Minute Clinic on wheels, with a patient self-directed as to what to do next via software–cutting down on the staffing costs behind routine measurements often gathered by nurses. “You can take the model of a patient going to Walgreens and doing the automated pressure cuff,” says Jordan.
The floor automatically weighs you when you walk in. Its pressure sensitivity can measure BMI, and posture, too. The chair has built-in acoustic sensors, which hear your respiration like a stethoscope. And a wraparound screen provides augmented reality interactions, to guide the patient through the experience. They may even be asked to literally point to where it hurts.