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The Brave New World of Healthcare & Future of Disease Prevention

It’s increasingly evident that disease prevention takes more than jogging a few miles a week and cutting back on the pork rinds.

Yet prevention is what some large health insurers are literally banking on to save the U.S. healthcare system.

Healthcare futurist Clement Bezold recently sketched several possible scenarios for tomorrow’ s healthcare, the most likely being the Patient-Centered Medical Home, in which constantly updated electronic medical records promote more timely preventative care, and employer-sponsored health insurance shifts to health insurance exchanges where employees move to high deductibles and catastrophic coverage.

 

[Kevin MD addresses this topic in 4 possible scenarios for the future of primary care.]

Other theorists believe this would require daily readouts from sensors implanted in the body or around the house to keep people healthy and those with chronic conditions from getting worse.

The question is, what will the public accept? 

As the erosion of privacy accelerates, are any but the most infirmed going to welcome inserted body sensors which could conceivably monitor their every move as well as their health status? What has government done lately to allay those fears and restore the public trust?

The Brave New World of Healthcare will be driven by whoever pays the freight. Insurers will be ratcheting up their efforts to keep people out of the hospitals. Government will continue to put the squeeze on healthcare providers to do more with less. 

In another scenario, Bezold sees  the medical home evolving into the community centered health home with primary care teams and reimbursement for care based on how “smart” the care is deemed to be. Yet another, labeled “I Am My Own Medical Home,” foresees technological advancements which allow us all to take over most of our primary care and buy health products and services at reduced costs in competitive markets. 

And what will hospitals of the future be? 

Will their role diminish? Will community hospitals disappear, with only tertiary or quanternary providers remaining to treat the most ill? Or will their function shift to “boutique” manufacturers and dispensers of pharmaceuticals for individually fashioned “designer” drugs based on the promises of the Human Genome project? It seems clear that unless hospitals define their future role by self-imposing much greater efficiencies and cost reductions, that role will be largely defined for them.

What is your take on this brave new world of healthcare? What about the future of disease prevention?


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