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All bets are off when you’re looking this far into the future. But since this is about the future of healthcare, it’s worth doing, and it’s worth the risk of being wrong.
Predictions are infamously hard to get right.
But say that to the futurist Ray Kurzweil, who appears to have an 86% success rate. One of Kurzweil’s more “out there” predictions is that a technological “singularity” will occur by 2045, when humanity merges with powerful machines to achieve immortality.
As for me, I’ll be happy to see that prior authorization has become much less burdensome for clinicians—and I predict that we will see this happen much sooner than the singularity. And while the healthcare predictions below aren’t exactly Kurzweilian, I think they’re just as exciting.
Andrew Mellin, M.D., Vice President and Chief Medical Information Officer, Surescripts
Mellin sees the future of healthcare as one where we’ve effectively cured cancers, chronic diseases and hereditary conditions through targeted biologic and genetic therapies.
“It’s this explosion in specialty drugs,” Mellin says, “that put diseases into durable, long-term remission or are flat-out cures for diseases that were once incurable. We certainly see that with HIV and some cancers now—making them well-controlled indefinitely—and the FDA has just approved gene therapy for sickle cell disease.”
Cecelia Byers, Pharm.D., Clinical Product Advisor, Surescripts
Not only is artificial intelligence likely to play a role in Mellin’s “explosion” of life-changing specialty medications, but as Byers predicts, AI will enable pharmacists to fully customize medications for individual patients, complete with profiles on expected side effects.
“Prescriptions will be completely customized to the patient,” Byers says. “It could only be written for you.”
The pharmacist, for example, might tell the patient to expect negative side effects for a few weeks before the patient should start feeling better. As Byers explains, this level of predictive accuracy will prevent the patient from losing faith in treatment (and prevent them from abandoning their medication). Today, the usual experience is not knowing for sure whether the medication is working.
“This will stop the patient from losing faith in their care and treatment.”
Melanie Marcus, Chief Marketing and Customer Experience Officer, Surescripts
Speaking of customization, Marcus predicts a future of patient care that is “always on” and holistic, with automated interventions.
“Data about our everyday biometrics, including urinalysis,” Marcus says, “will help automatically trigger an intervention for the patient for healthy eating, exercise and stress management. Or it will trigger an intervention by the healthcare system to deliver medication if a cold is detected, or for the doctor to call the patient if a cardio event is detected.”
In this future, patients own their health information, and the information will be usable and actionable at all times.
Geeta Nayyar, M.D., M.B.A., Author and Board Member, American Telemedicine Association
For Nayyar, a globally recognized healthcare technology leader, the future of healthcare isn’t just about having more accurate information, but also countering misinformation. She discusses this subject at length in her book, “Dead Wrong: Diagnosing and Treating Healthcare's Misinformation Illness,” a post-pandemic look at the rise of medical misinformation in the digital age.
“My hope is that patients, caregivers and executives will be better able to detect and filter out medical misinformation and make decisions based on sound reasoning and research.” As Nayyar explains, filtering out misinformation and pseudoscience will increase wellness and longevity for patients.
“This will be essential to building a thriving and effective healthcare system.”
(To hear more from Nayyar, a.k.a. “Dr. G,” listen to her episode about battling misinformation and building patient trust on our “There’s a Better Way” podcast.)
Joel Helle, R.Ph., Vice President of Physician Services of CVS Specialty, CVS Health
“New technology,” Helle says, “will revolutionize our ability to deliver personalized, affordable care that reaches patients where they are. Healthcare will be less fragmented and more integrated, extending beyond hospitals and clinics to the community.”
A big part of this shift, according to Helle, will be promoting wellness rather than treating sickness. “Care will be grounded in lifestyle interventions and equitable, accessible medicine—a trend we’re already seeing with the rise of biosimilars—while empowering patients to take more control over their own healthcare.”
(Hear more from Helle about innovation in specialty therapy on our podcast.)
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