The Future of Health Care: Empty Hospitals?

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One medical expert thinks most doctor-patient conversations will someday happen over the phone or through video.

As the final key measures of health care reform are implemented over the coming months, many people are wondering what health care will look like in a year, in five years or longer.

Dr. Nick van Terheyden, chief medical information officer for technology company Nuance, is also thinking about the future of health care — and as part of his research dug up this funny (but serious at the time) video from the 1950s:

After he had a good laugh about the sliding baby drawer, he wrote up his own predictions at Fast Company. Here’s some of what he expects:

  • “Mobile virtual asssistants, like [Apple’s] Siri” will allow physicians to take notes and build electronic health records without taking their attention away from the patient, in a way that “creates the digital record in a natural, human way.”
  • Hospitals will send text-message reminders to patients about when to take medication, and provide them with online access to their health records, along with a way to ask questions “and actively participate as part of their own care team.”
  • Hospitals will shift to “telehealth” platforms — health care largely provided over the phone or video conferences. Those who actually need to visit a hospital will find far fewer people there, and won’t have to wait.

“Someday, someone in my shoes will think how silly it was that doctors actually hand-typed patient notes; that consumers didn’t know the number of steps they walked in a day or how much it actually cost to get hip surgery; and that people actually drove to see a doctor face-to-face vs. simply speaking to them over the television or computer,” van Terheyden wrote.

What do you hope the future of health care will look like? Share your thoughts on our Facebook page.

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