By 2025, the confluence of technological innovation, globalization, consumerism, major advances in clinical care, demographics and pressure to lower healthcare costs will result an unprecedented wave of change in an industry where significant change has been the norm. The Information Age will take hold on the largest industry in our country forcing health plans to sink or swim in this new environment.
What will 2025 look like?
Technological advancement will become much more sophisticated allowing the seamless integration of consumers’ personal health information including genomics with specific preventative and treatment protocols. Robotic surgery, genomically-based pharmaceuticals, 3D printers reproducing body parts and genetic intervention will be commonplace. Cloud computing will allow the distillation of health information from hundreds of millions of individuals into ever-smarter epidemiological models that can predict and prevent specific health issues. The latest iteration of personal “super-smart” devices will allow remote monitoring of a wide array of personal health information ranging from cardiac monitoring to blood chemistry. This information will automatically propagate the individual's personal health record. Providers will often make 24/7 personal or virtual visits to their patients. In-patient hospital stays will decline as technological solutions allow sophisticated care and treatment “in-place” wherever the patient is.
With the vast changes in technology combined with the rise in socio-economic status of the populations in Asia, Africa and South America, personal healthcare will become a truly international phenomenon. This will manifest in the appearance of a number of new, foreign-based companies bringing the products and services they’ve successfully implemented in their own countries to the US. Areas like individualized pharmacology, virtual specialty care, robotics, eHealth and cancer treatment may be largely global.
While the healthcare industry of the past has been slow to accept innovations–it will be forced to change with the tidal wave of consumerism. Consumers will reject the industry’s concepts of quality care that is largely based on utilization indicators and shift to one based on actual outcomes. Real costs, previously hidden as they were covered by third-party payers through hard-to understand ICD-10 and CPT codes, will become much more of a focus as consumer demand for a true cost-to-outcome model takes hold. In addition, most of the treatment information available to providers will be accessible by consumers thus pressuring providers to stay current with the latest advances. Competitive pricing will be common with “Amazon-like” sites allowing easy-to-understand cost and outcome comparisons. The dual pressures of the aging Boomers (the me generation) combined with the coming of age of the Millennials (the super-me generation) will force the healthcare industry to be far more transparent, responsive and outcomes-oriented.
Clinical Care Advances
Advances in care will become more pronounced and rapid as a major clinical research centers around the world focus on the chronic and debilitating illnesses impacting an ever growing and more affluent world population. With the new levels of access and transparency of information and more assertive patients, these advances will move quickly into practice, requiring providers to constantly stay one step ahead of their patients. It’s likely that, by 2025, cures for some of our most devastating diseases will be within sight through new pharmacologic, genomic, biologic and microsurgical treatments. Replacement organs will become more commonplace with organ centers vying for customers on an international basis.
The US population older than 65 years of age will increase to nearly 20 percent of the total population while the percentage of those between the ages of 20-45 will decrease to less than a third of the population. The Medicare-eligible population will grow from today's 52 million beneficiaries to 73 million. Even with a great improvement in the prevention and treatment of disease, the burden of aging and the consequent increase in chronic disease, mobility impairment and socioeconomic issues will be dramatic. Because of the decrease in the working age population, the significant increase in the aging population will require alternative models of caregivers leading to the commonplace use of robotic and virtual assistants.
Perhaps the biggest driver of change in healthcare between now and 2025 will be financial sustainability. The growth in costs is simply not supportable. Unchecked, health insurance premiums will take an average worker's entire paycheck. As a result, between now and 2025, it’s very like that the healthcare industry will experience a financial collapse similar to what the banking, housing and automobile industry have experienced. It’s also likely that health insurance will no longer be tied to employment because of its costs and complexities. Many organizations in the healthcare industry in 2013 will have been too slow to respond to or misunderstood the changes sweeping through the market. This will provide an opportunity for new players, unrestricted by outmoded infrastructure and practices, to emerge and offer better alternatives at lower cost.
So where does this leave health care companies in 2014 that want to be around in 2025?
For many executives, taking the time to think about the next couple of years is daunting. Going as far out as 2025 – well, no way there’s time for that, right? But many of the companies that are creating the future are doing just that. They’re taking stock of the available resources, technological innovations and market opportunities and making their plans.
Do you think your company is too small to become a big player in 2025? The concept for Twitter was developed during a day long “brain-storming” session in March of 2006. Facebook started with a handful of people in 2004 and the iPhone is only five years old!
The year 2025 will come whether you plan or not. The question is – will your organization plan to be around in 2025?
“A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player
plays where the puck is going to be.” ~ Wayne Gretzky