The Evolution of Healthcare in the 21st Century

Rebecca Parrino

The ambulance is speeding towards the hospital, sirens blaring and horn yelling for cars to pull aside.  It is becoming increasingly obvious: they’re not going to make it.  The clinicians working in the back—including a nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant—are monitoring the patient’s vitals while a surgeon offers input from a real-time telemedicine monitor inside the vehicle.

When did your smartwatch indicate the blood clot formed? 

Less than thirty minutes ago, the patient replies.

There is no time to lose.  The hospital is miles away; the situation is now life-threatening.  The physician, nurse practitioner and physician’s assistant make a joint decision that could save the patients life, and they pull over to the side of the road, preparing for emergency surgery.

Wait…  Surgery inside the ambulance?

The smartwatch knew about the blood clot?

While these ideas sound incredible – perhaps the product of an overactive imagination – in reality, remarkable advancements in technology are rapidly moving our society towards a future that will allow for these types of innovations to become commonplace.  It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict the future of medicine.  We are swiftly evolving from the traditional healthcare model of the 20th century and must prepare for novel trends and diversity in the future of care.

In the article Not One-Size-Fits-All—Innovative Providers Creating New Healthcare Models, healthcare futurist and economist Dr. Jeff Bauer notes that the healthcare industry is becoming increasingly fragmented as policy continues to change in our country.  Job categories and roles are proliferating rapidly.  There is a growing demand for specialized Advanced Practitioners, and as a result, there has been shift in responsibility traditionally held by only a few medical providers.

These physicians are now joining forces with a diverse range of practitioners who are trained to perform similar functions.  Additional models of care are now enlisting existing providers in nontraditional ways, which ultimately redefines older notions of job categories.  For example, physicians, once primarily relegated to the role of caregiver, are being utilized in nontraditional management and informational roles, such as CIO, CFO, COO or CEO, as well as research positions.  These roles and responsibilities will require more specialized training, and providers should prepare for expanded education and testing to certify them to serve in these new capacities.

In addition, with the paradigm-shifting advancement of affordable and accessible technology, expanded arrays of services are being offered in unique locations.  Think back to the aforementioned example of emergency surgery in an ambulance as a result of a smartwatch-related warning.  It may sound far-fetched, but have no doubt: that future is just around the corner.

Concierge doctors who perform home and work visits are growing in popularity, and experts agree that in the near future, telemedicine will account for at least one-third of caregiver-patient services.  According to Steven Haggerty, COO of Asentra Health, “Reliable, convenient and affordable access to healthcare is now at the patient’s finger tips.  Doctors can visit via video chat in your family room to consult immediately in non-emergency situations.  Telemedicine visits are increasing daily and will only continue to grow in number as the regulatory bodies adapt.  It started in the consumer market, and its potential is now moving into hospitals as an added resource to meet patient’s needs.”

Perhaps most importantly, advances in integrated medicine and patient data collection will allow for the refinement of precision treatments that will become the standard – and most effective – way to heal and treat an individual.  Integrated and interdisciplinary care is a forward-looking investment for any organization; since there is an irrefutable relationship between behavioral health and primary care, providing appropriate behavioral health services in an integrated care setting can result in significant, long-term net savings to the company and health care system.

Some changes on the horizon are even broader in scope.

Climate change and the intermingling of people and cultures will dictate a need for city planners and evolutionary biologists to become involved in the industry as our society prepares to tackle challenging issues like the insidious Zika virus.  Also, as minorities in America continue to become a larger part of our communities, providers who share cultural bonds with these groups will only continue to grow in demand.  Clearly, it takes a comprehensive and globally informed base of knowledge to understand how these developments will impact your professional life or company’s future.

As a client or provider looking to navigate this sea of change – and attempting to understand how these fast-evolving trends will impact your organization or career – look no further than the industry experts at MedSource Consultants.  Our skilled recruitment and retention specialists are well-versed on the shifting landscape of healthcare in this new century.  They will provide you advice and insights as you make critically important decisions to position yourself for continued success.