The question of what the healthcare of tomorrow will look like prompts a broad, compelling thought experiment. As healthcare professionals of all stripes gathered in downtown Washington, D.C., last week to discuss that very question, a few key ideas emerged.
Here are the most interesting ideas Healthcare Dive found at U.S. News & World Report’s Healthcare of Tomorrow conference.
Care is moving back into the patient’s home
Health systems that embrace the patient movement toward consumerism are on the right track, according to several speakers at the conference. Locating services in a patient’s home or somewhere close by and easily accessible is more convenient for patients, but also produces more comprehensive and effective care.
Aetna CEO Mark Bertolini (who, despite some clever questioning from the moderator, declined to comment on “market speculation or rumor” that the payer could be acquired by CVS) said the home is the least expensive and most convenient setting for care. If it can’t be in the home, it should be at a retail clinic only a few miles away, he said.
“If you have to go to the hospital, we have failed you. What if that were the way the system was designed?” he said.
One key way the home can become a primary setting for healthcare is through telemedicine. This is particularly true in rural areas, where a patient may have to drive hours to get to their doctor’s office. And it will become more and more common as telemedicine becomes more widely adopted and stops being perceived as a separate category from “regular” care.
“The novelty of telehealth has fallen by the wayside,” said Christopher Northam, vice president for telehealth at HCA. “There used to be a lot more focus on the technology. Now the focus is on clinical measurement.”
Younger people are a big part of the drive toward consumerism in healthcare, and they want to receive care at their homes, Northam said. “That will shut down hospitals,” he added.
Dr. David Tsay, associate CIO at the New York-Presbyterian Innovation Center, agreed and said a lot of changes will take place in the next 10 years. “I think hospitals will look very, very different,” he said. “Hospitals will primarily be ICUs and ORs, and the rest of care will be done in the convenience of the home.”
Bertolini said ultimately it will come down to what patients demand as consumers, so creating a compelling and enjoyable experience will be key. “Us as customers — as consumers — disrupt the industry. Because we say we no longer want that, we want this.”
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