Healthcare service delivery 2030 – ‘The times they are a changin’
What might healthcare service delivery look like in 2030? It’s a complex question that I’ve spent some time unpacking recently through a formal horizon scanning process. Here’s an excerpt of the background and summary:
“The patient will see you now.”
It is perceptively simple – “The patient will see you now”. But what visionary cardiologist Dr Eric Topol is elegantly foreshadowing in this statement is not. It fundamentally upends the healthcare system as we know it. The most extraordinary times lie ahead for healthcare. It is both an exciting, yet profoundly disruptive, as powerful drivers of change intersect to transform the industry. The current model of healthcare is beginning to undergo an inversion. In the old model, services were designed around symptomatic, curative, centralised, provider centric episodic care. In the emerging patient centred and participatory model, the focus will switch to the predictive, preventative, decentralised, and personalised care. This shift is underpinned by a widespread societal movement from‘Dr (used to) know best’ and from sick care, to health care, to health and wellbeing. We are seeing a change in healthcare where the old paradigms no longer apply.
But can we really envision a future where Doctor no longer knows best? Where bed-less hospitals emerge? Where care is individualised according to genomes? Where illness is diagnosed using artificial intelligence? Where patients learn about their illness from peers and not just institutions? Where health information is democratised? Where new entrants to the healthcare ‘market’ challenge the traditional ecosystem of healthcare providers? And where care is borderless, connected and centred around the ‘smart patient’?
This narrative may seem seductive, utopian and unlikely, – but it is equally as simple to marvel at this missive as it is to dismiss it. As Nassim Taleb reminds us:
“Our inferential machine which we use in daily life, is not made for a complicated environment which changes markedly.”
Whether we ‘believe’ what is emerging or otherwise, the current perfect storm of healthcare challenges will require more probing philosophical questions about the realisation of healthcare services in 2030.
To (2030) and beyond!
When looking ahead to 2030, a significantly different model of healthcare is emerging, one that may in fact circumvent the traditional systems, processes and paradigms of today. Untethered by mobile technology, the availability of ‘healthcare everywhere’ could see a transition in delivery models from acute care settings to community clinics, to retail environments, to the home, or even to healthcare providers internationally. New non-traditional healthcare organisations (once far removed) could also reset the axis of healthcare as they begin to carve out their niche in the delivery of ‘around the patient innovations’ and models of care.
A confluence of technologies – from digital (3D printing, advanced robotics) to new materials (bio or nano based) to new processes (big data, artificial intelligence, machine learning) could change the way in which healthcare is delivered and received. But it is not just the steady march of technology that is propelling this potential change. It is also a brigade of more empowered and enterprising patients who are leveraging this technology. In fact, some of the biggest change may come from the deeper worldview shifts away from ‘Dr knows best’ and from sickcare, to healthcare, to wellness.
The rules of engagement are fundamentally changing. As these forces become part of the core business of healthcare; new ways of thinking and transformative business models will become paramount.
But this is not about a complete dismantling of the current healthcare system. It is about the ongoing adaptations the system needs to make in order to respond to emerging changes in the external environment.
What is possible in healthcare is changing. We are already moving towards a future, the question is whether this is a future that we want. There is perhaps no better time to start the conversation about the range of possible, plausible, probable and preferred futures.The healthcare landscape is ripe with change. As you will learn by reading the report and as William Gibson notes
Even if a third of the trends and emerging issues discussed came to wide-scale fruition, a fundamental shift including how people understand healthcare, access healthcare and also who is managing healthcare will occur.
The eight key trends shaping healthcare service delivery 2030: