Health 2.0 From Dr. Stephen Schimpff - Megatrends in H/HC

Although I tend to steer clear of quoting futurists' reports in general, I can't resist sharing a few coming 'megatrends' as conceptualized by Dr. Stephen Schimpff.

I'm also sharing Schimpff's work due to a bit of hometown pride; University of Maryland Medical Center is the site of my first ankle and knee ortho surgeries post MVA, and they did a bang-up job.

Schimpff is a former CEO of UMMC in Baltimore (published in The Examiner 12.10.07). It's encouraging to note he isn't settling down to long days golfing or fishing - he stays busy with research and other gigs including Lead Consultant to the Army on the "OR of the Future."

I'm also adding Schimpff's new book, "
The Future of Medicine -- Megatrends in Healthcare That Will Improve Your Quality of Life," to my holiday reading list.

Here's a taste of what's to come over the longer term (15+ years), according to the good doctor:
  • "The century-old model of 'diagnose and treat' will become 'predict and prevent.'"
  • "Repairing or replacing organs will be routine" (not without some kind of incentive for more people to donate).
  • "Personal medical information will be instantly available no matter where we are" (thumb drive PHRs/EHRs anyone?)
  • "The entire practice of medicine will be much safer" (continued performance and quality improvements, transparency in quality and outcomes data, etc. will push this through).
And in 5-15 years we'll see:

  • "Designer drugs individualized for a patient's specific molecular makeup" (think this may be an overly enthusiastic estimate).
  • "New vaccines for diabetes, multiple sclerosis, shingles, and to prevent hardening of the arteries, cervical cancer in younger women, Alzheimer's disease, and possibly even drug addiction" (apparently we'll be able to cure destructive behavioral patterns as well).
  • "Robots will assist surgeons in complex operations" (ok, already there).
Factors driving the changes include convergence of the following fields:
  • advances in the lab/genomics
  • infectious disease tracking
  • bioengineering
  • computational power
  • entrepreneurial focus
  • patent and trademark law (i.e. the ability to patent intellectual property)
And the most interesting comments from Dr. Schimpff:

"Policy changes by government officials to make medical care more available, more affordable, safer and better distributed are moving at a glacial pace. But medical care as outlined above is changing rapidly."

"The megatrends above are inevitable — albeit the time frame for each will certainly vary. Unfortunately, we cannot be nearly so confident that health policy will keep up with our medical knowledge and abilities."

As healthcare and hospital bloggers, the more visible of us have the unique opportunity to educate others on advances in care practices and processes.

Let's make sure we don't ignore the responsibility to educate ourselves about relevant changes in public policy.

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