The Gilded Age of SickTech

The Sicktech Gilded Age

GUEST POST from Arlen Meyers, M.D.

The WSJ reported that Twitter Inc. TWTR 5.66% accepted Elon Musk’s bid to take over the company and go private, a deal that would give the world’s richest person control over the social-media network where he is also among its most influential users.

The $44 billion deal marks the close of a dramatic courtship and a change of heart at Twitter, where many executives and board members initially opposed Mr. Musk’s takeover approach. The deal has polarized Twitter employees, users and regulators over the power tech giants wield in determining the parameters of discourse on the internet and how those companies enforce their rules.

In response, the NYT reminded us that two years ago, the economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman published a statistic that you don’t normally see. It was the share of wealth owned by the richest 0.00001 percent of Americans.

That tiny slice represented only 18 households, Saez and Zucman estimated. Each one had an average net worth of about $66 billion in 2020. Together, the share of national wealth owned by the group had risen by a factor of nearly 10 since 1982.

Wealth inequality in the US is rising with fewer and fewer owning more and more. As digital health consolidates and unicorns become as common as dandelions on your lawn this time of year, should we fear the Sicktech Gilded Age? What are the concerns?

  1. Will these technologies cause more problems than they solve?
  2. With wealth comes power. What will that mean for equitable access?
  3. What will be the impact on the business of medicine?
  4. Will profits precede patient interests more than they are now?
  5. What will be the impact of private equity on medical practice?
  6. How should we educate and train health professionals to work in the Sickcare Gilded Age?
  7. How will sickcare entrepreneurs respond?
  8. What will be the backlash from the sickcare workforce? Labor actions and strikes?
  9. How much more will the prices of sickcare rise as inflation eats away at household spending?
  10. Will technobarons be able to transform sickcare into healthcare?
  11. Will there be a Luddite backlash? The past is prologue.
  12. What will be the impact of sickcare technologies on society?

Or, will there the bubble pop and we will start seeing more “cram downs”? Do you trust sickcare technobarons to do the right thing?

We will have to wait and see whether Mr. Musk can unleash the value of Twitter or whether sickcare barons can do the same. Many other billionaires have failed trying.

Image Credit: Pixabay

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About Arlen Meyers

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is an emeritus professor at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, an instructor at the University of Colorado-Denver Business School and cofounding President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at www.sopenet.org. Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ameyers/
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