Getting healthcare out of GroundHog Day

Category under: Blog, Health Care

I often wonder if the discussion about health care in many parts of the Western world has come off the rails – with the result that many opportunities for real innovation are not being pursued.

That’s the focus of quite a number of keynotes I’ll be giving in the next few weeks, including for the American Association of Preferred Provider Organizations annual conference in Jacksonville, the 2012 National Pharmacy Forum in Tampa for the Healthcare Supply Chain Association, and a private leadership event for the Mercy healthcare group based in St. Louis.

One of my key messages is that it’s time for bold thinking, big actions, and new ideas in the world of healthcare — and that can only be accomplished if people change the conversation.

What’s the problem? I think that many in the system are stuck in sort of a groundhog day like existence — they get up every morning, and everyone around them keeps talking about the same old thing as the day before — in the US, healthcare reform. In Canada, the discussion is all about wait times. In other countries, the issue of the future of healthcare often swirls around a single issue.

The result is that real healthcare innovation is stifled, smothered, and never given a chance to flourish. Yet there is so much other opportunity if we link ourselves to the major trends that are going to unfold in the future at a furious, blinding velocity.

We need big thinking, because the health care cliff in the Western world is massive. In many countries,  we’ve got a ratio of workers  to retirees of 4 to 1. By 2030, that will decline to 2 to 1. Most of those workers support the health care expenditures of those who place the greatest demands on the health care system. In Canada it’s suggested that as a result, by 2030,  Old Age Security and health care is likely to suffer a $71.2 billion shortfall that will require a GST of 19% and a top tax rate of 71%. In the US, the numbers are even more mind-boggling.

The fact is, we need big, bold thinking, Grand ideas. Dramatic change. Champions with courage to challenge the status quo. The need is desperate.

That’s what I take a look at in my keynotes, by looking at where we will be in the world of health care by 2020. The changes are massive — which implies the opportunities for real innovation are unprecedented. Consider the trends:

  • Preventative: By 2020, if we do the right things, we will have successfully transitioned the system from one which “fixes people after they’re sick” to one of preventative, diagnostic genomic-based medicine. Treating patients for the conditions we know they are likely to develop, and re-architecting the system around that reality.
  • Virtual & Community:  A system which will provide for virtual care through bio-connectivity, and extension of the hospital into a community-care oriented structure. Wireless and mobility health apps that link consumer wellness monitoring to medical professionals.
  • Consumer driven: A consumer driven, retail oriented health care environment for non-critical care treatment that provides significant opportunities for cost reduction.
  • Real time:  Real time analytics and location-intelligence capabilities which provide for community-wide monitoring of emerging health care challenges. “Just-in-time” knowledge concepts which will help to deal with a profession in which the volume of knowledge doubles every six years.

That and much, much more. The fact is, we are going to witness more change in the world of health care in the next ten years than we have seen in the last 200.

That’s the message that has resonated with the global audiences that have been bringing me in to challenge them to think about the real opportunities for innovation in the world of health care. And through that, I’m discovering experts, politicians and people within the health care system who really are thinking big enough about the potential opportunities for real innovation within the system.

Think big. Do great things. Accomplish massive change. The need is dire, the urgency is fast.



THE FUTURE BELONGS TO THOSE WHO ARE FAST features the best of the insight from Jim Carroll’s blog, in which he
covers issues related to creativity, innovation and future trends.