A Vision of Healthcare In a Post COVID-19 World

Raphael Rakowski in Scientific American:

A new set of forces emerging from this crisis will drive healthcare delivery in the years to come.

Uncoupling healthcare assets from healthcare services: Using technology and next-generation logistics, many healthcare services will be uncoupled from their facility-based operations. The explosion of telemedicine over the past 60 days, substituting for the legacy in-person physician visit, points to a future in which the home is the optimal site of medical care.

Patients as the organizing principle for healthcare delivery:  While talk of patients becoming consumers has been growing for years, consumer power has yet to fully materialize. Driving this incoherence between providers of care and patients receiving that care are intermediary third parties (i.e. insurance companies, Medicare and Medicaid) that pay for the care received by patients. In the future, when patient co-pays and deductibles reach intolerable levels, those patients will demand value, convenience and customer service from their healthcare.

Artificial intelligence, point-of-care diagnostics, and wearable biometric monitoring: These three core technologies, more than any others, will help propel a decentralized care delivery platform. AI will democratize optimum medical care by using large amounts of patient data and best-practice evidence to guide diagnosis and treatment. Point of care diagnostics technologies (think of the Tricorder in Star Trek) will allow medical providers to have instant confirmation of patient diagnoses in decentralized settings. This will reduce costs and accelerate access to appropriate treatment. Wearable biometric monitoring devices will allow patients and medical providers to remotely monitor their medical status, allowing for safe medical care at home or in other decentralized care sites.

Next-generation paramedics: To bring care to patients when and where they need it, paramedics, tethered to physicians in centralized medical command centers, will receive increased training to deliver rapid care to patients wherever they are.

Houses of worship and religion: With growing pressures on the economy and the increase in unemployment and homelessness, the number of Americans on Medicaid roles will grow, and with that growth, there will be a need to provide lower cost creative sites of medical care in the community. Churches, mosques and synagogues will become community-based sites of care delivery for under-served patients.

Clinical trials at home: With a decentralized healthcare delivery chassis in place, clinical trials will be conducted in patients’ homes, enabling a democratization of access to advanced experimental therapies.

More here.