Friday, October 14, 2016

Healthcare for the New Era

Industries that have been around for a long time have a hard time changing. The more established and complicated they are, the harder time they have jiving with the modern consumer.

Healthcare is one of those behemoths that ruffles the feathers of even the most conservative millennial. 

It stands in direct opposition to a million principles that we hold dear. It often sends people into debt because of its high cost. It throws its weight around with “trust me, I’m a doctor” instead of valuing transparency and patient-centric care. 

It devalues alternative options and promotes itself as the single authority when it comes to a healthy lifestyle.

Now, I’d like to make one distinction: I’m not saying that the healthcare industry is bad at adjusting to new procedures and treatment options. 

In fact, it’s one of the fastest-moving fields in the world when it comes to incorporating new developments. However, the industry itself and how it’s run as a business… that’s a ponderously slow beast that will only change its ways under extreme duress.

However, big changes are on the horizon for the healthcare industry. With a new era of consumers, healthcare industries are finding themselves faced with the “evolve or die” ultimatum. 

Millennials, as the new consumer force, are changing the way that healthcare does business.

Reasons the Healthcare Industry Has to Change

They have less personnel and less leaders: One major change that the healthcare industry is facing is an extreme shortage of qualified leaders. 

The modern economy has made a generation of debt-averse students. In a rapidly changing field, students no longer feel confident of the ability to quickly pay off the crippling debts that can get accrued in med school. 

While technology will answer many needs for more helping hands, it’s also true that more individuals will have the power to make waves in an increasingly sparse industry.

It’s just too expensive: With or without insurance, patients are increasingly appalled by the expenses that they have to face from just a checkup or a routine procedure. 

A friend of mine spent two years just paying off her appendectomy… and she’s a very financially responsible individual! 

While most people trust doctors, they also don’t believe that the cost is usually worth the service, and more and more people are looking for manageable options that will help them maintain health.

Technology is changing how we shop: A decade or two ago, no one would think to check out online reviews before choosing a primary care physician. 

Now, it’s unthinkable to many to accept a doctor without first checking out their online rating. The internet gives us the power to explore our options, and make informed decisions about who will be conducting our care. 

Technology is also changing how we’re able to monitor and direct our own health. Today, millions of people use wearable devices to determine how they’re doing with diet, exercise, and sleep. 

Not only does this allow for more specialized health care, but it also gives us a wider range of data to do research from and develop more effective care.

Some Changes You Can Expect Within Your Lifetime

1: More Openness to Holistic Care

An increasingly connected world means that we’re no longer stuck inside a narrow Westernized view. 

Information exchanges across cultural and geopolitical barriers make patients more curious about alternative treatments, and force western medicine to acknowledge that it doesn’t have the market cornered on healthcare. 

Although basic methodology will continue the same, more and more research will look into care that focuses on the well-being of the entire body, instead of a narrow focus. 

Part of the reason that we’ll see more and more of this is because integrated healthcare works. We know very well that mental health has a bearing on physical health, and that treating the body is just a part of treating the overall person.

2: Increasingly Preventive Care

More and more, medical education programs are requiring nutrition courses because we’re acknowledging that what we eat and do daily helps to determine our health. 

With America’s greatest health challenges being diseases like diabetes and heart disease that are easily preventable, in many cases, with changes in diet and exercise, more and more physicians are seeing the need for teaching patients personal care habits that will improve health instead of diagnosing and dosing.

This can be seen as a part of the new generation’s desire to be more involved in care, and to opt for cheaper routes. 

Most people will choose a new self-care regime that they can control over the knife any day. Now, I know that in a lot of my statements I sound like I’m pitting myself against the old order of doctors and health professionals, but I’m positive that I’m on the same side as most professionals when I say that this can only be a move in the right direction.

3: More Connectedness

Technology and communication options that we have today means that no one is an island. Online forums and texts mean that patients are well-informed about their health, and that connecting with others who confront the same challenges is easy. 

Since shutting down WebMD isn’t really an option, professionals have no choice but to enter the conversation instead. 

We’re seeing more and more physicians with an online presence who connect with patients online and do their best to dispel myths that are floating around out there.

An immediate consequence that we see of this inter-connectedness is that many hospitals are opening up device-enabled communication, instead of having all patients come into the office for care. 

Patients are able to connect with professionals from their own home.

What changes do you see coming up in the healthcare industry? Which ones are you most excited for?

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