There are a number of factors contributing to the changes occurring in healthcare. The Affordable Care Act, cuts to Medicare, lack of Medicaid expansion, and hospital debts are just a few. These factors will affect hospital care in the immediate future and not-so-immediate future.
Preventative Care and New Payment Systems
As far as the job market is concerned, there will be a shift in doctors' responsibilities. There will be more of a focus on preventative care and wellness in an attempt to cut costs, as many have realized the need to treat people not when they become ill, but before they're sick. Hospitals may even start giving patients access to health coaches and pharmacists to help them manage their health. This will require additional payment systems to make such activities affordable on a large scale. If implemented, these adjustments will lead to enhanced payments and the ability to employ additional workers in new positions. Payment models will also receive adjustments as they account for the system-to-come that bases payments on total services (such as the entire cost of treating someone with diabetes) rather than an individual service. This will motivate both doctors and administrators to keep prices low.
Shifting Job Responsibilities and a Decrease in Inpatient Care
In addition, more healthcare will be provided by people other than physicians. Because there is such a shortage of doctors, nurse practitioners and physician assistants will take on a more central role, and some care will be "outsourced" to schools, clinics, the workplace, and even peoples' homes. This may affect the role of healthcare administrators, as they may have to shift their focus away from hospitals and toward home healthcare services or even work in education. There has already been a decline in the number of hospital admissions, and in the next five years that number is expected to go down by another 3%. Some predict that by 2035 most people will be able to pay for services in advance and receive care in an outpatient setting, with only the sickest being admitted to hospitals. Staff in all settings will also be motivated to keep efficiency and patient satisfaction high (thanks to websites like healthgrades.com) and take on business savvy (especially in academic medical centers) to keep tabs on supply chain management and other aspects of operational excellence.
Technology for a Virtual World
As one might guess, technology will play a huge role in the future of healthcare. Tools are becoming smaller and more mobile, making the transition away from inpatient care even easier. Engineering and development isn't that far away from creating scanner type tools that can read vitals and monitor treatments in seconds, reminding some of scenes from Star Trek. In the future of healthcare, patients will be immersed in a virtual world that allows all of their physicians to be connected around them and informed of their health, regardless of said patient's location or the time of day. With this increase in virtual medicine, one of the big benefits is that the best doctors can reach broader communities and care for people in rural areas. As far as healthcare administrators go, they're already dealing with the new regulations regarding electronic records for all patients. But in the world of the future, they'll have to coordinate the increased costs of technology, manage doctors operating as mobile units, and keep track of an expanding number of patients receiving diversified care in a bigger region.
About the Author:
Iris Stone is a freelance writer, editor, and business owner who has written on a range of topics. She has experience covering content on medicine, healthcare, and career training, as well as education. Iris is also interested in science and mathematics and is currently studying to be a physicist. Check out her Google+ Profile.