“Disruption” is a trending term across industries, and it doesn’t exclude health care. What truly disruptive influences might be coming? Is there an Uber in our future?
The way people interact with health care is changing fundamentally, says Niteesh Choudhry, Executive Director of the Center for Healthcare Delivery Sciences at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. Retail clinics or telemedicine, for example, can reduce the patient burden of engaging with health care as a whole.
Many clinicians who work in hospitals believe these institutions are where a patient will find the best care. But patients — in other words, consumers — don’t necessarily agree. “They’re perfectly happy going to retail clinics and perfectly happy making telephone calls in order to receive their care,” says Choudhry, adding that there is clear evidence that not only is the quality of these services at least every bit as good, but the costs may be lower, too. “I think if there is fundamental change coming, it’s in this idea that care must happen in the kinds of silos in which it’s been delivered for all these years.”
David Asch, Executive Director of the Penn Medicine Center for Health Care Innovation, agrees. “It’s crazy to think that, in the future, the only way you can get care is in the hospital.” But, he cautions, health care can’t be solved by an app. “If you’ve been admitted to the hospital six times in the last year with congestive heart failure, there is no app for that.”
Asch likens it to how conventional thinking — for example, that the only way to get around New York is to hail a taxi — has changed. “I don’t know exactly what’s going to be disrupted,” he says, “but hopefully a lot will be.”
From the NEJM Catalyst event Patient Engagement: Behavioral Strategies for Better Health at the University of Pennsylvania, February 25, 2016.