In an ever-changing, digital world, how can healthcare providers prepare for the future?
Society has changed. It continues to change. All consumer-facing industries must adapt to innovation, development and change or fear being left behind. The world’s largest taxi company, owns no vehicles. The world’s biggest media owner, creates no content. The world’s most valuable retailer, has no inventory. The world’s largest accommodation provider, owns no properties. Are we soon to see the world’s largest healthcare providers succeeding to care for their patients without any clinics?
Consumerism is the driving force behind this change in the market. As consumers demand improved accessibility to increasingly high-quality services, the skills and solutions which healthcare providers must offer to their customers, are no exception to the rule. Next generation healthcare includes AI and robotic technology as genuine treatment options, with wearable technology already being used as a preventative solution for the everyday health-conscious consumer. Coupled with a rapidly ageing population (11.5% of us are over 65), the seismic change in the healthcare market is wide-reaching, and it is here to stay.
As healthcare providers, we have seen the decline of the provider-driven market, where access to healthcare information was limited, doctor’s recommendations were final and digital tools were virtually non-existent. We are now in a reality, where information is freely available, patients are seen as active partners in the process and even their smartphones play a part in the diagnosis and delivery of care.
This much broader ranging, patient-centric approach to healthcare is the key to success for modern healthcare providers. Most evident in the “shift-left stay-left” healthcare model, we are seeing an increased emergence of data-driven, prevention-based care, in stark contrast to the reactionary system of old.
Virtual care, telemedicine, remote- monitoring have become the standard, and are the flawless reflection of the new age of consumerism.
Of course, the consumer, albeit the obvious fuel in the healthcare engine, is not the only stakeholder driving the change. Emerging technologies and innovation in service delivery have also spurred a demand for change from the healthcare workforce.
Technology and innovation continue to be ground-breaking, not only in surgical and medical ability, but in the seamless integration between AI/robotics and the traditional medical professional. As healthcare providers, this also presents us with another vital consideration, that these new complimentary technologies may inevitably replace certain specialties.
While in stark contrast to the industry of the past, AI technology now plays a vitally important part in the future development of healthcare. These advances have been hugely welcomed by the market, and have showed little sign of suspected consumer mistrust.
“Research by PwC suggests that the public is ready for AI and robots in the healthcare arena. A survey of more than 12,000 people in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa found that a substantial percentage of consumers would be willing to substitute AI and robots for humans in some parts of healthcare.”
What does this mean for the private healthcare professional?
Telehealth (e.g. video consultation care) is a growth area within the wider healthcare industry, which has responded to these developments by addressing the concerns of the consumer, while providing innovative, efficient and implementable options to healthcare professionals. Online GP consultations & e-prescriptions now give the office worker their lunch-hour back. Online speech & language therapy sessions now give the mother and toddler their afternoon back. Connecting with a therapist from the comfort of home now makes those first steps to healing a little easier. Why travel, park, and sitting in a waiting room when you could just open your laptop?
It also provides more than simply the consumer-focused, arguably obvious solution, of bringing healthcare to the consumer as opposed to vice versa. It also provides healthcare providers with the reassurance of sustainability. Reduced administration, reduced no-shows, and the ability to reach those who can’t reach you, are vital considerations for those availing of the telehealth solutions market.
All signs point toward a future which is quickly becoming the present. Substantial research, development, innovation, and investment is facilitating and generating a wave of change in the healthcare world.
As Deloitte’s 2018 Global Life Sciences Outlook notes, global healthcare spending is set to reach $8.7 trillion by 2020. Where is this money being spent? On ageing populations, rising labour costs, and of course, advances in healthcare.With some of the world’s largest companies and institutions entering and reinventing the global healthcare market (Samsung, MIT etc.), the onus remains on the everyday provider, to keep up.