My grandfather was a physician in rural eastern North Carolina, where house calls were the only way to practice medicine. Visiting a home immediately teaches you a lot about a patient: you smell cigarettes, see alcohol bottles, understand how medications are organized, notice what’s in the pantry and soak in the power relationships between family members—without asking a single question.
No more. House calls have been, as they say, canceled.
Over the last century, for the sake of efficiency, sharing “on-call” duties and leveraging investments in expensive diagnostics equipment, we centralized healthcare into clinics and hospitals. Along the way to factory-efficiency, physicians lost a lot of context and information, patients drove many miles for far-too-infrequent interactions, we all shared a lot of germs, and care costs skyrocketed to cover those waiting rooms, drop-ceiling exam rooms and on-site labs.
But now, with pervasive connectivity and new digital tools, care is decentralizing again. The COVID-19-fueled culture of telecare provides a new urgency and expectation to see and care for the whole patient, wherever they happen to be. We see this trend accelerating with massive investment from the venture community, payors, and provider groups. As a result, the way we “do healthcare” will never be the same.
Beyond the Hospital enumerates the themes, opportunities, and benefits across healthcare stakeholders, both providers and payors, to realize this future. You will see:
- Simple, well-designed products and experiences that present insights to people and their families’ first, then with consent share data across the care team;
- Data from home-test kits and easy-to-use sensors will diagnose disease, personalize care plans and auto-fill medications;
- Voice-first conversational agents will prompt adherence to these plans, and wellbeing programs that go beyond traditional healthcare;
- Population-level predictive analytics anticipate the need for interventions and radically reduce care costs;
- Lightweight texting, photos, and Marco-Polo interactions dominate doctor-patient interaction;
- Doctors are happier because they have less administrative, regulatory, and legal burdens;
- A new profitable business model of continuous AI care emerges, fueled by data and automation, but consumers perceive it as personal and high touch.
I hope you’re inspired by the emerging ecosystem of digital care products, all of which urgently need human-centered design to converge and give us the house-call future we want: concierge-level personalized service at a price point that anyone can afford. This future will combine clinical utility for healthcare providers with a personal care experience for families. And despite being powered by digital, we hope to retain a compassionate and intimate human touch, like my granddad who trundled from house to farm in the middle of the night to drip his ether and deliver a kid or calf—whatever was needed.