This is a story about Fred. He’s from a strange place… the year 2020. Like most 30-somethings, Fred is generally healthy. He has type 1 diabetes, stays relatively active and sees his doctors routinely to manage his care. Fred’s grandmother (Emma) has slightly more complex health care needs. She just had her knee joints replaced and she’s going through post acute care. Fred is here today to share how healthcare will change in the next 4 years:
#1 – A Unified Healthcare System
In 2020, Fred no longer needs to keep track of his insurance information, pre-authorizations and deductibles for necessary health care services. That’s because the U.S. government is covering all healthcare expenses for its citizens. This reduction in administrative complexity, helps to cut U.S. healthcare spending by as much as 25% or $750 Billion Dollars! While the adjustment period took several years, the system is leaner and eliminated several low value services. The cost-savings were used to assist with job transitional services for the reduction in the insurance workforce. Contrary to conservative projections, fewer people abused the system. People are generally healthier and less stress about living.
#2 – Universal Patient Identifier and EHR
Fred is a frequent traveler and while on a trip to Miami one weekend, he slipped on his hoverboard and cut his knee. He checked into the local urgent care clinic. Using the Universal Identifier barcode on his smartphone, his thumb prints, and retina scans, his centralized Electronic Healthcare Record (EHR) immediately pulled up his medical records. The urgent care care physicians, who has never treated Fred, has comprehensive access to his record including information such as allergies, existing medications, radiographs, lab results, and treatment history. This universal identifier and a national EHR system provide Fred a frictionless experience from admission through discharge.
#3 – Real Time Monitoring and Artificial Intelligence
Yahoo, in an amazing organizational comeback, developed a watch that non-invasively monitors all your critical physiological data. Emma, because of her complex conditions, was given such a watch. The watch is able to acquire basic vitals (i.e. heart rates, SPO2, etc.), daily activities (i.e. sleep cycles, physical activities, etc.) and more importantly, all her traditional lab results (i.e. glucose level, blood counts, sodium concentration, and more). The results are transmitted via her smartphone to IBM’s Dr. Watson (a big data analytics engine developed to produce healthcare diagnostics). If Dr. Watson determines anything concerning, a message is triaged to the appropriate doctor for intervention BEFORE Emma checks into the emergency department, helping her avoid an expensive and painful trip.
#4 – Virtual Health
Using the Universal Virtual Health platform, Fred checks in with his primary care physician regularly. At a scheduled time (through a shared calendar on Fred’s phone), Fred is able to access a virtual video chat room with his doctor through his contact lenses and his smart phone. Since this platform is integrated with his smart watch, his doctor can quickly review his physiological trends. If medication is required, his PCP electronically signs a prescription. This triggers Amazon RX drone services to immediately deliver the medication to Fred’s home. There isn’t a concern with the drugs falling into the wrong hands because they’re genetically personalized to only be effective for Fred.
Fred is pretty happy camper. He is less stressed about his finances and his health because he knows that he is receiving the best care anywhere. While many of us in 2016 might be in awe about the state that Fred lives in, all the tools are essentially available today. We also can’t ignore the incredible amount of disruption such system may have on our existing healthcare. Healthcare is a $3 trillion dollar industry and there is a lot of financial and political interest in maintaining the status quo. So why change? There isn’t a simple answer except that… it’s good for the health of the American people and isn’t that reason enough to try?