Future of Health Care: Redux

Sue Bergeson Health Guide
  • In my blog last week, I talked about a high-powered "think tank" meeting I attended that discussed the future of health care. Whenever I talk to anyone about my experience and what I learned there, I always get the same response: "Man, is that depressing; don't you have any good news?"

     

    Well, ironically, I was just asked to participate in a project for a professional association I belong to, the American Society of Association Executives, also about the future of health care. And, in the spirit of sharing some uplifting information, I wanted to paraphrase the following trends from this project that we could see as "good news:"

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    More personalization: With the cost of delivering services through the Internet decreasing to almost zero, we might see a rise in a highly-personalized delivery of educational materials, treatment plans, tools and other goods and services.

     

    Cell phones might replace the laptop: Cell phones are the most widespread form of personal technology; they even outstrip the credit card! Many of our peers who can't afford Internet service and/or a laptop might soon have the same access to information and services in a form of technology they can afford—their phone.

     

    Social networks might facilitate innovation: With so many people engaged in social networks online and in their local communities, we might be able to harness that energy and massive "brain trust" to find-and refine-products, technologies and services that make the world better for those of us living with mental illnesses.

     

    Happiness as an industry: Health care "forecasters" predict a marked rise in self-help and coaching services to improve people's sense of well being.

     

    Personalized medicine: Revolutionary gene-based products and services appear to be the next wave in technology. We might see the creation of medicine that is unique to our particular genetic "formula," which would put an end to through endless attempts to find the right combination of medications.

     

    Increasing prevalence of the "freemium" business model: An increasing number of online businesses are offering their products free of charge, while earning their income from advertising sponsorship and other services. For example, the medical website www.Sermo.com provides free registration for 50,000 physicians to share their expertise and opinions with each other anonymously. The hope is to achieve better outcomes more quickly for their patients, instead of waiting on research and studies to be published. The site operates on the "freemium" business model—it is funded by organizations and commercial partners who pay to see the doctors' opinions/insights on, and discussions of, conditions, treatment options, etc.

     

    You see, there is some good news out there. Feel better? If not, wait a few years and you can get a new wellness coach.

     

    Do any of these future possibilities strike a chord with you as particularly helpful?

Published On: March 19, 2008