No one can predict the future, but the future is not unknowable. While no one may be able to accurately predict the future of US healthcare, we do know something about what it will look like.
Some will want to understand why we need to change the way we deliver care. This YouTube video by Dr. Barry Bittman is a helpful introduction to the challenges we face. Simply put, we cannot continue to deliver care in the same way we have for the past 60 years.
The stakes are very high. We must find a way to improve the overall health of a given population, accomplish that at the lowest possible per person cost, and in a manner that engages and satisfies the patient’s right to a positive experience. The risk of failure or inaction far exceeds the risk of change. To do nothing is paramount to accepting the economic demise of the United States.
The future of US healthcare requires redefining what healthcare means: moving away from episodic sick-care to sustained preventive care, from provider-centric care to patient-centric care, from hospital-centric care to point-of-resident care, from professional-based knowledge to consumer-based knowledge and decision making.
The path forward will include some combination of the following realities: team-based care, technology and non-physician supported chronic disease management, integrated health delivery systems, data and results-driven population management, as well as a strong patient-centric focus.
The transformation will be highly disruptive. It will result in a redefinition of the roles and responsibilities for health care providers, a deconstruction of the medicalization of US society, and a higher degree of personal responsibility.
We are moving into very interesting times, both challenging and exciting. Change is never easy, but change we must.
“There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things. For the reformer has enemies in all those who profit by the old order, and only lukewarm defenders in all those who would profit by the new order, this lukewarmness arising partly from fear of their adversaries … and partly from the incredulity of mankind, who do not truly believe in anything new until they have had actual experience of it.”
Niccolo Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter VI, 1532