Making accurate long-term predictions about health care is far from easy. After all, advances such as robotics-aided surgery and stem-cell research weren’t routinely available to doctors as recently as the early 1990s; moreover, they weren’t even using e-mail back then. Projecting how the medical landscape might look like, for example, in 2025, is equally difficult.
However, we can explore what key attributes future health care delivery systems should have. That is what Rob Lazerow, Practice Manager at Health Care Advisory Board did last October at a conference in Washington DC with providers, policy makers and community leaders. The following are the 7 words he selected to describe how tomorrow’s healthcare should look like. A great selection according to us. What do you think? Do you find missing any?
1. Scalable. The future delivery system will provide care through scalable, efficient models by managing three different patient populations. Achieving a flexible delivery model will become even more critical if coverage expansion efforts reveal new access gaps.
2. Team-based. As part of achieving scale, providers will increasingly deploy team-based care models—especially for primary care. The medical home and similar models ensure all providers practice to the full extent of their training and skills.
3. Patient-centered. While “patient-centered care” is a buzzword right now, providers need to reflect on what it actually means. At a minimum, providers will need to develop specific care plans that support patients’ holistic health needs. Progressive organizations will go further and reorganize around patient needs, instead of specialties or academic disciplines.
4. Comprehensive. Leading population health managers already recognize how much behavioral health, economic stability (especially housing), and emotional support contribute to overall health and wellbeing. In the future, providers will have a large role to play in addressing these psychosocial determinants of health.
5. Collaborative. Delivering comprehensive care will require an array of services, many of which extend beyond the traditional purview of health care providers. Partnership management must be a core competency to coordinate networks of partners with aligned objectives.
6. Interconnected. Effectively managing a network of hospitals, physicians, post-acute care providers, and community organizations will require a new level of interconnectivity. Many provider organizations have ended the quest for the perfect EMR system and instead are focusing on data exchange across their networks.
7. Inclusive. Finally, the future delivery system will be much more inclusive than today’s health care system. It begins with the partnerships that will make care more collaborative, but does not stop with formal providers or community organizations. In the future, patients, family members, and lay caregivers will be more directly involved in both care planning and delivery.