Thirty years ago we were stunned and amazed by the possibility of technology being as hands-on as it was in Back to the Future: Part II. As the date has finally arrived where Marty McFly crashed on the scene of his future life, we want to hear what the the CEO of a healthcare IT company perceives to be the future of healthcare 30 years into the future -- particularly when it comes to personalized care on a technological level. 

In April 1999, Michael O'Neil was a cancer patient at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. Following surgery and chemotherapy to treat non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, O'Neil began his recovery and mission to improve patient care, based on his experience. Founded on the core premise that patient outcomes can be improved through engagement, O'Neil created GetWellNetwork, a company focused on improving patient experience and results through patient and family engagement.

On this Industry Focus episode clip, we see how this 15-year-old company -- still in its infancy -- has more to look forward to on the horizon, and how it's collaborating with doctors and hospitals across the country, and with major healthcare IT players so patients can receive better care.

The full interview can be heard here. A full transcript follows the video.


Kristine Harjes: It's Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2015. That is the day where, in Back to the Future, Marty McFly went to the future 30 years. I'd love to ask you: In 30 years, what's going to stand out to you about healthcare? Putting you on the record here, but of course, it's pure speculation. What do you think is going to be the biggest, coolest, most radical change in healthcare in 30 years?

Michael O'Neil: I really think the personalization of our healthcare and really understanding our own DNA at a much more intimate, personal level from an early age, and really guiding our life journey and our health journey through that information is going to be really important. I have two brothers who are in the sport industry, and I'm watching the craziness today that is fantasy sports like fantasy football and all these things.

My dream and vision is the following: If we can begin to move people to a place where you're paying as much attention to your life journey and your health journey as you are to your fantasy football league roster, imagine the change that we could actually see in the world. Imagine communities of diabetes patients getting healthier, and what that actually results in from a human advancement standpoint.

I know it sounds up in the clouds and it sounds way out in the future, but I really believe if we can begin to arm people with personalized information about their health journey, and they actually can pay attention to it, man, we'd see a lot of change in the world that could be really productive.

Harjes: That's an incredible answer. One of the things we were talking about before the show was this engagement with your own health and you have the information in front of you, your doctor is going to tell you -- you mentioned earlier "a stack of papers you're just going to throw out." It's about sparking that passion for following your healthcare journey and determining what your goals are and why they matter.

That's what's going to make all the difference.

O'Neil: There's no doubt in my mind, if we can move healthcare from being ailment based to aspirationally based, we'll really change the dialogue. I will tell you one last thing. When you go to a clinic, or a doctor, the first thing on their chart is "chief complaint". I fundamentally think that's the wrong thing to be first on the chart.

Imagine if my doctor knew that the most important thing to me was to not get cancer again, because I have two young girls I want to make sure I walk down the aisle 10 to 15 years from now. I guarantee you that when he prescribes a diet regimen, or a medication regimen in service of that life goal, not because my arm is aching, I guarantee you I'm more apt to be engaged in that care plan.

To me, that's ultimately what we're trying to do with GetWellNetwork. To get people to move and take a more active role in their health journey. When we do, the outcomes are killer and we're having a ball.

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