Future of Healthcare 👩‍⚕️: thoughts from an unqualified humanities major

There are too many problems with the healthcare system to note. 😢 We’re skipping to the verdict.

Verdict ⚖️

It’s inevitable that disruption is coming. Several headwinds inform this: increasing dissatisfaction, more ‘on-demand’ technology, greater data processing. The key is what disruptions we are likely to see.

Non-educated guesstimate trend #1: from binaries ⚖️ to sliding scales ↔️
Historically, health has existed in a binary. One is either “well” or sick, receiving care or not, a patient or not. The future we’re likely to see is a realisation that this is a false dichotomy, and thus a move to a more nuanced scale of wellness.

Driving factors:

  • on-demand economy and increasing touch points with the end user 📱
  • IoT and new medical devices

The above proposition seems simple, but it has a profound implication on the type of care we will see in the future.
* We will see more, earlier, and smaller interventions 👩‍⚕️📱
* Instead of waiting for a ‘hospital’ or ‘doctor visit’ event for a medical intervention, we can achieve smaller interventions with any number of new touch points.
* We have everything from the run of the mill telemedicine/online therapy/mindfulness sites, i.e. taking existing services and breaking them down to a granular level that can be more easily accessed.

* More interesting is the idea of a greater scope of primary care, i.e. in addition to digitising what medical care we have now, we add to that other services, e.g. mental health, addiction management.
* Taking the above to the extreme, instead of doctor’s offices, specialist clinics, and hospitals we should fully expect to see an increase of offerings in-between, e.g. micro-hospitals and clinic-hybrids. 🏥
* As primary care moves out of hospitals and online, we should see hospitals and new institutions evolve, some becoming smaller in size and more specialised.
* The uber-isation of patient importance (yes, ugh, I know but it’s an accurate description) 🙋‍♀️
* We will see an increased emphasis on patient experience as a metric. Direct to consumer innovations, that don’t go into the belly of the beast will need to appeal to our psychology to drive adoption. We’ve gotten used to being able to complain about quality of service.
* Moreover, other ancillary services will make use of data, consolidation and network effects to take on more services than before. In addition to bringing the service to the ‘patient’, services will appear in front of the ‘patient’. For example, a point of contact like the pharmacy will evolve past dispensary: they may also help validate identity, eligibility, prescribe, and even provide some of the smaller health interventions discussed above.
* 🔑 In short, we push smaller and more interventions closer to the “patient”!
* + On a more macro level, we may catch pandemics earlier.

Non-educated guesstimate trend #2: from sliding scales into all parts of life 🌏
* Taking the above to the logical conclusion, if there is no states of healthy/unhealthy, wellness and care bleeds into other areas of life.

* That may take the form of something as simple as continuous monitoring of health with the Apple watch.
* More interestingly, it may see health as not just being a minimum acceptable form of being, but as a component of productivity. This is an especially interesting spin on employer-driven healthcare in the US, where it is not seen as a liability or a necessary perk, but merely a metric to boost productivity.
* One great upshot of this is the destigmatisation of care to mental health.

Non-educated guesstimate trend #3: away from hypothesis driven care 🕵️‍♀️ to personalisation of care 🎯

  • Big data and AI deserves will be huge.
  • “When you hear hoofbeats think horses not zebras”🦓 : medicine is partially an exercise in hypothesis testing, i.e. we see symptoms, we guess it is most likely this and we go down in order of probability
  • With big data and AI, e.g. genomic testing, we can move from that to personalised care and treatment. This has a lot of exciting implications, including scalability, accuracy, and quality of care. I am especially excited about it’s effect on mis- or missed diagnoses surrounding rare chronic illnesses.
  • More interestingly, we may see big data and AI driving predictions of issues, feeding trend #1, above.

Non-educated guesstimate trend #4: blockchain and data management 📊

  • With increased scaling of data (and hopefully data privacy structures that work), disruptions to help with patient data and administration is inevitable, e.g. blockchain

Non-educated guesstimate trend #5: human-centric design 👩‍🎨

  • UX/UI design of medical devices. Gone are the day of, let’s make it beep. Now, companies like MIC are designing feedback systems to interface with hospitals effectively, moving closer to the usual domain of Silicon Valley startups.

Non-educated guesstimate trend #6: cyber-security in healthcare - an under-loved sector 🥋

  • I was recently surprised to discover how often cyber-security concerns play into healthcare, e.g. ransomware attacks with a woman in Germany being the first death to be linked directly to a ransomware attack at Duesseldorf University Hospital.
  • This problem has an obvious cause: legacy existing IT infrastructure old and vulnerable. This can only grow worse with IoT in healthcare.
  • Apart from the obvious need for cyber-security, ransomware and data hostage taking will interact with new insurance/FinTech in healthcare, which is it’s own other beast entirely.

PS another key implication of more data heavy health care, is re: governmental structure underpinning it: the US will likely have different problems and evolutions in technology to China. 🏛

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