In this article we’ll take a closer look at how these organizations are likely to change (and in some cases already are changing) rapidly in the near future and what that might mean for how we are cared for and how we work in the healthcare industry.
The changing healthcare landscape
Before we can understand how our healthcare systems are likely to change, we need to look at how the way healthcare will be delivered is going to evolve so we can predict how these organizations will need to adapt to the new playing field.
We are already seeing a plethora of health and activity monitoring equipment being used for everything from heart rate monitoring, blood oxygen levels through to new devices like the Muse headband; an ECG that monitors brainwaves to promote and train mindfulness and stress reduction. All of these devices and many more on the way are affordable, accessible, not particularly invasive and all able to connect to a broader virtual healthcare landscape as it evolves. This could enable practitioners and specialists remote access to a patient and a broader community’s vital health metrics. This model will encourage a more pre-emptive approach to healthcare, preventing conditions becoming chronic by means of pro-active monitoring and a connected healthcare system.
Virtual healthcare networks and local health hubs
Allied to this data lead healthcare approach, we will likely see a more virtual process to the way we interact with healthcare services. In the coming years we can expect to see a change away from the standard healthcare process we use today that typically involves a trip to the doctor followed by a prescription and/or a referral to a hospital or specialist towards a more virtual/physical hybrid.
We will more likely connect with GPs and physicians via an online chat environment that will dramatically unclog waiting rooms and waiting times making the process much more efficient while eliminating a lot of the unnecessary associated travel.
We are quite likely to start to see community-based health hubs providing a center (like a shopping mall for wellness and healthcare) along with specialized treatment centers to perform the physical treatments and surgeries.
Along with a continued need for specialist physicians, surgeons and other healthcare professionals, we will also see a lot of new roles created to manage the way these new systems are run. As technology improves and changes the healthcare delivery systems, so we will need more medical data experts, technology developers and the kind of focused leadership that can enable the smooth running of these new community healthcare hubs.
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How will existing healthcare providers adapt to this brave new world?
Acute-care hospitals and medical centers
Currently, hospitals are right at the core of our healthcare experiences; they provide the majority of care, and most healthcare processes revolve around them in some way.
As we move towards a more remote model with community healthcare hubs being a first physical port of call and a supported virtual network that may eventually provide the access point for most patients, we will start to see the need for hospitals to diversify their approach to negotiate processes with these new providers. They will also need to be able to work remotely with patients, up their digital game to handle the large amount of data from a population’s connected devices, and they will need to do all this while maintaining their margins and balancing the books. Hospitals have a lot of work to do to integrate with the future of healthcare.
Health Insurance Plans
The ‘one size fits all’ approach will need to become a health insurance relic. As providers gain access to a myriad of consumer data, they will be able to create health plans that are more inline with lifestyle choices and dynamic health data. Perhaps we can envision a future where constantly monitored health-related data will inform our health plans, our healthy life choices will reflect in that data, and an insurer could reward a customer accordingly. This could have a significant motivating effect on the health of a population that learns to take more responsibility for financial as well as wellness outcomes. Amazon has recently trialed a new way to support their staff with a futuristic health plan model.
Medical device technologists.
Fitbit (now Google) along with Garmin, Apple and a host of other health tech developers will increasingly need to work closely with health insurance providers, healthcare organizations and actual caregivers. This is so that they can maximize the benefit of their technology not only to the individuals wearing them but towards broader communities in terms of how their data is safely accessed and translated.
As the data, technology, and services move towards a more targeted system of healthcare delivery,the drug manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies involved will need to support this trend. We are starting to see exciting developments in this field, especially in cancer treatments that assist the body’s own immune system, huge advances in gene therapy that can help combat diseases such as sickle-cell anemia and treatments that are personalized to a person’s biological or genetic makeup.
Healthcare is undergoing a shift right now towards a more diversified, digital space that aims to personalize much of the care that is delivered via individual data gathered from smart devices and wearables and also via the big data from the wider population. This far more connected approach to healthcare will need to be supported by device and drug manufacturers, the hospitals and clinics that currently do most of the heavy lifting and by a healthcare workforce that can grow and adapt to new roles and positions.
Updated Date: 15 November 2019, 11:31