The future is never what we want it to be.
It is always a mix of what we predict and what we fail to anticipate – a hybrid.
So as we jostle for the future of healthcare, discerning its post-pandemic trends – the ones that will remain and the ones that will subside – we must understand that the future will be a hybrid.
A hybrid of what we predict and what we fail to anticipate.
While telemedicine has been proclaimed the future of healthcare, patient trends and usage rates suggest otherwise. The likely future for telemedicine is more of an adjunct service to complement the traditional patient encounter.
Many have stated that healthcare insurance companies will meet their demise at the hands of direct payment models, yet we see more and more companies accepting risk based insurance models. The likely future for healthcare insurances is some combination of risk and direct payments.
The future never has a linear cause and effect relative to the present. If it was linear, fortune telling would cease to be a business because we all could do it. The future is a non-linear hybrid in which patterns and trends coalesce in ways we can never fully anticipate.
But there is one tell, one signal that provides some semblance of a future trend.
Healthcare trends towards minimizing uncertainty – at all costs. Uncertainty is to healthcare what a vacuum is to nature. There is an inevitable pull towards eliminating it. Even if the pull produces results that are illogical and even harmful.
When over 55,000 physicians self-prescribed hydroxychloroquine during the early days of the pandemic, they were fervently seeking a cure for a yet unknown viral disease.
When patients began purchasing over the counter test kits instead of relying on their established healthcare system for testing, they were desperately seeking immediate test results to verify whether they were infected.
The fear of uncertainty drives the decision-making at an individual level, and drives healthcare at a systemic level.
And this, as much as anything else, is the critical factor in determining the future of healthcare.
Uncertainty reacts to what is unknown, and impacts how we understand and interpret what is known.
There is the data, and then there is the perception of the data – the known blended with the unknown, a distinct hybridization that plays out circumstance after circumstance in healthcare.
It explains why telemedicine will always be a part of the patient experience going forward, but never a dominant part. Why digital patient engagement is important, but not important enough to eliminate the traditional patient encounter.
Trends always follow the path of least resistance. In healthcare, that path is paved through the caverns of uncertainty, always forging forward through a path of least uncertainty.
Favoring a distinct hybridization of what is predictable, yet unforeseeable – all the while eliminating any unnecessary uncertainty.