Over the next decade, as much as 50% of health care will shift from the hospital and clinic to the home and community. New technologies will drive in-home care, at-workplace care and in-car care — thereby improving prevention, detection, behavior change and caregiver support.
A wide range of personal health technologies are coming into their own — something we refer to as the consumerization of medical devices and the medicalization of consumer devices. We will increasingly conduct virtual visits with doctors, nurses and care coaches through our cell phones, tablets and laptops.
A lot of care can be done in quick snippets — 10 seconds of interaction with your doctor — and doesn't require a face-to-face visit. Cancer patients shouldn't be sent to germ-filled hospitals for chemotherapy. It would be far safer and cheaper for them to have home infusion, but the current system is not set up that way
An increasing array of diagnostics will conduct real-time monitoring in our everyday lives. Sensors will look for changes in how we move to detect neurological risk. Tiny implantable devices will analyze blood chemistry in real time and let a doctor know if our drugs are not being metabolized correctly. Not so long ago, an ultrasound was an expensive device the size of a cart or a room.
Today, it's quickly becoming a cell-phone-sized device available to every primary care clinic. As the optics and technology improve, it could soon become just another app on a smartphone. In this future, we will no longer have to go to the diagnostics — the diagnostics will always be available to us.
New business models
These changes will require new roles and business models for everyone. Patients and informal caregivers will need to be educated to empower more remote care and self care, and information technology and decision-support tools can play a critical role here.
Hospitals will no longer have a business model based on filling as many hospital beds as possible. Instead, they will have fewer beds and develop ancillary services in the community to enable a networked continuum of care.
Rather than being segmented by disease categories, medtech will likely reorganize into in-home or in-community technology platforms that can serve multiple disease states. Pharma companies may acquire new capabilities — software, IT, service delivery — and become brokers delivering a wide range of care services around a particular disease state and drug.
These changes will not be easy. Revolutions seldom are. But they promise a vastly improved future — a health care system with better quality, increased access and lower costs.