How Autonomous Vehicles and Mobility Services Will Impact the Future of Healthcare

Nearly 20 automotive corporations are competing to produce autonomous vehicles and get them on the road within the next few years, with some like Google’s Waymo already testing on the streets.

What will set these different concepts apart? And, which company will innovate beyond the basic consumer use for transportation? In this post, we explore how autonomous vehicles will expand the  transformation of transportation to specifically impact the future of health and healthcare.  

According to Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota Motor Corporation, the Toyota Research Institute is leading the way into the future of autonomous vehicle capabilities. At CES 2018, Toyota introduced a new concept that stands out from anything else that’s been presented in this space so far. The e-Palette could introduce retail and e-commerce to an entirely new ecosystem with on-demand experiences. Toyota will be formally debuting a fleet of e-Palette vehicles at the upcoming 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.  

There is no question that we are in an era where the idea of transportation and the automotive industry are changing. And with concepts like e-Palette, the automotive industry will have more opportunity than ever to partner with nearly every industry, including healthcare.   

With e-Palette, anyone will have the ability to request products or services online and then e-Palette will provide delivery. Think of it as a “store on wheels”. The concept blurs the lines between brick and mortar, retail and e-commerce. Big brands like Amazon and Uber are already on board to test the new concept.  Outside of retail opportunities, Toyota has also noted healthcare as a key industry for its use. Exactly how will autonomous vehicles, drones and eVTOL vehicles impact healthcare? 

We see big changes ahead. 

First, imagine if Walgreens or CVS had a store on wheels. Prescription delivery, basic hygiene items, household items, and pharmacy assistance would be theoretically available in your driveway or office parking lot with the touch of a button. Telemedicine has rapidly evolved into a widely adopted concept, and something like e-Palette takes managing one’s personal health to a whole new level of convenience. Telemedicine apps and services cannot currently perform tasks like running tests or checking blood pressure, for example, but an e-Palette drugstore on wheels could.  

To ensure the right prescription or delivery is going to the right person, some security measures have been proposed including the utilization of facial recognition and other access technology s, such as text codes or passcodes to confirm identity. The big question: how will HIPAA adapt to, influence or even block the future of mobility services for healthcare?  

We could also see fewer auto accidents overall and quicker trips to the ER. It is a fact that approximately 90% of car accidents are caused by human error. With enhanced driverless car sensor technology, we could start experiencing much faster emergency response times without mortal mistakes getting in the way.  

High-tech innovation isn’t only for the Millennial or GenX generations, older generations will also benefit from this new technology. Statistics show that motorists over the age of 70 already experience an increase of auto injury and fatalities. Autonomous vehicles and on-demand services will give the growing elderly population the safety and mobility they need while providing greater access to hospitals, physicians and providers, especially for those living in rural areas.  

People with disabilities and those who are handicapped would be able to experience life changing opportunities—finally having the opportunity to travel alone. And those who are blind could travel safely to their destination and receive the care they need without an assistant or driver – making healthcare more accessible and providing a solution that previously seemed impossible.  

There are several facets around accessibility and without question, it has been one of the healthcare industry’s biggest challenges. Today, as a society, time is a precious commodity and finding time to prioritize healthcare is a battle for most. This is not only finding time to fit visits when you’re sick, but also to engage in self-care. Think about your daily commute; a grueling 30 to 40-minute drive home can turn into an hour with traffic after you’ve been sitting at your desk all day. What if you could get a massage on the way home instead? You could take a yoga class, meditate or speak with your therapist. Your vital signs could even be monitored from your seat or a nutritionist could provide you with a meal plan for the week. Instead of just driving home, you could use a concept like e-Palette and request services that enhance your overall health and well-being.  

Consumers have already adopted convenient services like Uber, Postmates and more. While widespread consumer adoption of new services and technologies can take time, a concept like e-Palette will only elevate the industry further, building demand and strengthening consumer purchasing power across the board.  

There will be broad economic impacts, with many industries profiting.  Think about the increase in consumer spending as vehicles steer themselves freeing up time for passengers to do other things.  Time for paying for entertainment and shopping for goods and services. With the convenience and time it’s a winning proposition for all parties involved.

The possibilities are endless, and we see opportunity everywhere.

Do you see these changes to the transportation industry as positive or negative to the future of healthcare? From our perspective, we see many positive impacts to patient outcomes in the future, especially considering how these technologies can address the urban/rural divide. Specifically, bridging the gap to access to healthcare brought on by geography.  

Essentially companies in any industry could take advantage of this new technology when it hits the streets and start gaining new streams of revenue at an exponential pace. According to Toyota, its software capabilities will allow companies and brands to install their own automated driving system and vehicle management technology so the transport hub can be shared for various business needs, shifting flawlessly from one application to another. Toyota says it plans to conduct testing of the e-Palette concept in various cities in early 2020. Stay tuned for more updates as we follow the progression of this evolving concept.  

Are you ready to set your brand on a course of innovation? Connect with us to find out how we help brands navigate emerging trends and create competitive advantage. Let’s talk about how  we get started positioning your company for future-proof success.

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