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Is healthcare about to “go the way of the Dodo ?”


As the new year started, all kinds of predictions come to our attention, mostly of things that will enter our lives.

How about things that will dissolve from our lives ?

Of all species that became extinct the Dodo has become sort of synonymous with extinction. To “go the way the Dodo” means something is headed to go out of existence. (picture and quote source The Smithsonian)

So this goes not only for species but also stuff we use or things we do.

You might want to have a look at the extinction timeline and find things you did, ‘some’ time ago, and don’t anymore.

But what about healthcare? What will vanish, will the doctor due to all of this new technology disappear, or the nurse? Will we no longer go to a hospital or to the doctors office? I don’t think so.

We still will be needing professionals with compassion and care. However shift ís happening and some things will start getting obsolete. In the following i am in no way going to try to be exhaustive, so feel free to add in comments or thought on what you think will disrupt from our lives in terms of health(care).

Location. One of the major shifts in healthcare is that location is getting less important. Due to new technology, cheaper testing methods, mobile technology things are changing already. Next to that rising costs in healthcare is forcing to be efficient with staff and overhead, so mergers and takeovers are increasing. Whether or not that is the way to go is to be seen. We (Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center) for one think there are better ways like creating a network based on collaboration in stead. With different points of care near people, with the help of new technology a lot can be done. With those ‘readings’ can be done easily just around the corner or more be even more at our own home and more specialized procedures will be further away. We’ve seen this before of course but may be now it is different With the huge challenges ahead we have to do more ourselves. Technology is making that possible.
So the trusted, well known hospital with doctors we know will disappear more and more.

Duration of the stay. A decade ago some procedures took 15 days hospitalisation where they take 3 days nowadays. This is due to new technology, medication, protocols and new insights on rehab. A median stay in US hospitals at present is approx. 5 days. 
So, long stays for regular procedures will more and more uncommon

Individual unorganized healthcare professionals. Increasing legislation, budget cuts, but maybe even more constraints on education and the growing information overload that has to be ‘taken in’ makes it hard to keep up. Next to that the administrative burden is increasingly distracting from delivering healthcare. Also there is a tendency toward more females stepping into healthcare then ever before and (at least in the Netherlands) the part-time ratio for healthcare workers is increasing. Also shifting tasks to nurse practitioners, physician’s assistants will be key. Collaborating on these issues by working in groups or setting up strategic partnerships could help. 
So my take would be that within one or two decades individual unorganized would become in the minority.

Two-party research in a three party world. Up until now health research has mainly been done by the industry and researchers, whereas patients were the passive subject. I often say : ‘Doing medical research without the cooperation of patients is like car-racing backwards blindfolded’. Just like new communication techniques democratized the media and even regimes, these tools will be used to get patients organized around research on matters they care about. Research without patients in co-control will be disrupted for (applied) research by new systems that will chance the setting for ever. It will just be a matter of time and the availability of tools for patients. E-patientDave stated “…I’ve never seen one that’s so outside the mainstream, in ways that are so aligned with the goals of our Society as often expressed on this site: Doc Tom’s vision of letting patients help heal healthcare….
Let’s see how long it takes for a two party health research system to get disrupted into a three-party one.

Being a good Doc’ won’t be good enough anymore. Increasingly reviews are stepping into our life. Travel, restaurants, finance and customer-service business for that has gone public. Satisfaction with healthcare-experience in general might become evenly important as the quality of the medicine practiced due to information on the internet and reviews. 50% of the US smartphone users use it to look up health information. Next to text, information videos will be increasingly important with i.e. YouTube being worlds second largest search engine. Healthcare could benefit from adopting the use of video as well. 
Medical quality alone will no longer be the standard in which people choose providers.

So what are your predictions on what will disappear in healthcare? Share them with us in the comments.


Lucien Engelen

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