I recently described medicine’s future to the heads of one of America’s largest health systems.
It’s a future already happening at companies like Uber, Amazon, and Disney. Facing competition they’ve innovated: lacking competition hospitals have not…until now. Suddenly the cozy alliance between providers and payers has broken down. Payers buy providers: health systems offer insurance vehicles. Both desperately consolidate to arm themselves for the coming Armageddon to control health care.
All of which means disrupted hospitals suddenly face two completely foreign challenges: providing value and finding ways to function more efficiently.
So I told these health leaders about one coming efficiency: real time surveillance of employees and inventory i.e. how come we can track a passenger or his baggage anywhere in the world in real time but we don’t know if a hospital patient is finished with his MRI or a surgeon has arrived in the OR?
Order an Uber and you know the exact minute your car will come, you can view the car enroute in real time, and know the driver’s name, car model, and license plate. At Amazon’s massive warehouses employees wear bracelets that not only identify their location but detect their arm motions (so the device makes sure they’re reaching to pack the correct item.) Similarly at Disney World your family wears bracelets that pay all your bills and keep your place in line for rides (automatically calling you back when it’s your turn). Disney even programs the bracelet with your child’s favorite character and then alerts that character to your location to seek you out…and make your child’s day.
In transportation, retailing, entertainment and most other industries such real time surveillance of employees is old news. It’s only new to medicine because until now providers never required this level of efficiency.
This will inevitably change. Doctors, patients, and consumables will be tagged and a computer will show all their movements in real time to the managers of hospitals, ORs, or clinics. It’s already happening in some operating rooms. Patients will benefit with better service; but surveilled physicians and staff will likely suffer one more blow (along with EMR and ongoing “engagement” campaigns) to their autonomy.
And consider the “Uberization” endgame: replacing their human drivers with totally mechanical ones i.e. autonomous vehicles.
Unfortunately health care’s endgame is no different: “autonomous” (AI) doctors (a sadly ironic term since physician autonomy is precisely what they take away). If you’re in an imaging specialty like radiology or pathology, AI is already fast replacing you. AI is also replacing psychiatrists and primary care doctors. Sure, employers can’t buy compassion from AI. But people with compassion come far cheaper than physicians.
If you’re a physician, your commodity status is only going to get worse. And “commodity” status means no status at all. The future will only make you more interchangeable, more vulnerable, and more abused.
To escape this future, you have to stay independent. Doctor Michael Breen Associates can help you do this. We provide the press releases, web site help, social media help, and other marketing assistance that can transform you from a commodity…to a unique brand.
If you’ve already taken the leap and are practicing the kind of medicine you dreamed of in medical school, contact us. We’ll help keep you in control of your destiny. And if you’re just considering taking the leap into an independent practice, we’ll help make that transition easier.
If you’re willing to act, you can still be the doctor you always wanted to be.