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Say goodbye to your waiting room woes (in 2037)

August 15, 2017

    Members love to ask us about the immediate future of health care delivery. But rather than just fixating on what may happen a few years out, our recent webconference underscored why providers and suppliers should also start thinking about monumental changes that—while 15 or 20 years out—would fundamentally change the way health care is delivered. 

    For instance, let's push the envelope and consider a world devoid of physician offices. It may feel far-fetched, but once you push the clinical and financial pressures on the care delivery landscape to their extremes, you'll start to see how this world is more plausible, and possibly more imminent, than it initially seems.

    Consumers are driving care away from offices

    We surveyed nearly 4,000 patients about their preferences for primary care and found that eight of their top 10 preferences related to cost or convenience. It's not surprising, then, that patients are using virtual visits—which often can be conducted on-demand in patients' homes—to meet a range of their health needs. Case in point: Volumes for telebehavioral health, virtual chronic disease management, and specialty telemedicine have all surged in recent years.

    Providers are trying to stay on top of the trend too: 63% now use telehealth in some form, which can range from patient portals to video conference consultations. And in 2016, Kaiser Permanente's CEO announced that 52% of the organization's patient transactions were conducted online.

    Greater prevalence of technologies may render offices obsolete

    Of course, many services are not yet conducive to virtual care. But as cutting-edge technologies become more widespread, activities currently confined to a doctor's office may be performed anywhere. We've already seen technologies that allow physicians to remotely monitor patients, diagnose conditions through remote 3D imaging, and administer exams through mobile phone apps.

    Fifteen years ago, these technologies seemed impossible. Looking forward another 15 years, they may seem quaint. As more patients prioritize low-cost and convenient care, and that care in turn becomes more accessible, the physician office—once a staple of the care delivery landscape—may gradually disappear.

    What could this mean for your products and services?

    The end of physician offices would impact where physicians deliver care and how they interact with their patients; in turn, this would impact demand for your products and services. You may face new product and service end users, purchasers, and more.

    Consider how a transformational change like the disappearance of medical offices can open doors for supplier innovation. For example, while there may be lower demand for designing traditional medical office buildings, there may higher demand for nursing homes equipped for remote monitoring. There may be gaps in products and services that you can fill, including patient support services that ensure virtual care is user-friendly. 

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