Is Health Care 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 health care? 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 is 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 health care 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 health care 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 instead. 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 health care 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 health care. Also there is a tendency toward more females stepping into health care then ever before and (at least in the Netherlands) the part-time ratio for health care 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 health care….

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 health care-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. Health care 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 health care?

Share them with us in the comments.

Lucien Engelen is the Director Radboud REshape & Innovation Center at Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Center.

8 replies »

  1. This essay addresses many excellent points, but it so poorly edited (grammatically and syntactically) that it is nearly incoherent, nearly painful to read. What a shame, when the author has made so many excellent points. The author is not a native English speaker, and given that, he is delightfully articulate. But, who exactly is the copy editor of THCP? And if there isn’t one, why isn’t there an editor? You have advertising on the blog. I assume that a small amount of income from the ads would pay for a minor amount of editing…. I’m disappointed for this author who has been so thoughtful, only to be sabotaged by a lack of editing.

  2. Humans exploited the DoDO bird, eating its meat, killing the last one in 1861. The meat of health care is being devoured by the HIT vendors, converting it to excrement.

  3. Well, the Do Dos certainly are an aggressive species.

    I’d heard stories – but never actually seen a Do Do attack

    Fascinating that the rumors of their myopia and self-destructive behavior patterns should turn out to be so true

    Perhaps we should catch one and stuff him for posterity

  4. Amen to this comment. People have lost the “art” of interacting and believing in the faith of direct human contact.

    Exhibit A; what is a friend these days? I am so glad I do not participate in this Facebook process. Quantity over quality, on what freakin’ planet!?

  5. America has become dumb and dumber due to control by machines. They are slaves. The computerization of medical care will turn out to be one of the greatest failed experiments afflicting humanity and mankind. The CDC should be called in to assess the epidemic of computer errors afflciting the practice of medicine and the patients.

  6. It won’t be “health care” that will become extinct, just the process of physician-patient relationship will be extinct. “Care” already has been so dumbed down and simplified, people pursue treatment like they pursue auto repairs, buying a product like computer, hell, even like purchasing clothes.

    But, there will always be an enduring factor not even the business model can alter: you get what you pay for. Oh, and if you’re not paying for it, yet demanding the same level and intensity of services as those who do, good luck with those outcomes. Let the Left/Liberal/Democrat lie continue to pervade.

    Face it, when you dumb down the value of life, you have eroded the very principle that health care survives on. But, our politicians have been excellent in making sure that attention has been distracted.

    Now, you can all go back to your various screens and alternative forms of entertainment. Pay no attention to the planet you are kindly allowed to reside on for what little time is left!

  7. I really learned something here: Prior to reading this, I wasn’t aware that the epidemic of buzzword overuse as well as uncritical trust in the benefits of technology and consumerism has reached the Netherlands.