Healthcare is changing. Changing radically and driven by powerful forces of cost, technology and consumer empowerment.
Here's what you can look for:
1. The electronic medical record. All your health records will soon be stored electronically. The don't live in a file at the doctor's office, radiologist or hospital anymore. This "instantly accessible" tool will be a significant advance for care anywhere YOU may be. Further, the emergence of the EMR will help drive superior care and less medical errors as computers can flag potential problems.
2. The clinical cloud. It's no longer only your music that will be downloadable. But soon, your health record will be digital and follow you. You CAT scan and ECG are a click away for any necessary viewing.
3. Retail Medicine. Yep, it's already there. But the medi-clinics on the corner will be replaced by chain-style medical offices that will appear in your local mall or big box store. Even retail pharmacies will expand their service to include some medical care.
4. Smart phone monitoring. Your smart phone will monitor your ECG, blood sugar, sleep patterns (to name a few) and alert you and your doctor when there's a problem. It will track and record these trends and offer valuable diagnostic information.
5. Expert engagement at a distance. Distance is no longer an issue. With video engagement and the medical cloud at hand, difficult (and even simple) cases can be evaluated by experts around the world. Even surgical procedures by physicians thousands of miles away--with the help of robotic.
6. Implantable devices. Pain, depression, and common conditions that are generally treated with pills will be successfully managed with implantable devices that use both drugs and electric current to stimulate and normalize conditions with less toxicity and superior long-term management.
7. On-line office visits. At-home diagnostic tools and data transfer to a physician's office will reduce the need for an actual office visit. Video conferencing and these diagnostic tools will provide an accurate assessment, care and risk-management.
8. The patient-doctor. The empowered patient will learn to make informed decisions based upon new at-home tools and techniques. We will measure our own blood chemistries and take and transmit our ECG's. Our actions, guided by experts will allow us to be engaged and informed.
9. Value driven intervention. Cost will emerge as a key factor in care. And value will be an important element. Patients will be rewarded for seeking cost-effective care and value seekers "shop around" procedures like CAT scans on the basis of technology and cost. Long gone will be the day of having a complex test without knowing or caring about the price.
10. The vanishing private practice. The economics of medicine are squeezing the solo practitioner. Seeing "your" doctor at Wal-Mart may be more likely than that small practice in your home town.