By 2050, we expect these specific nine outcomes to happen:
A Medical Education
1 The length of medical education is reduced to half.
Currently, with country variations, it is spread over 16 years after high school: a 4-year premedical, 4-year medical, 4-year residency, 4-year specialization.
The curriculum will comprise only critical parts required for patient cure and those that interest students in their future specialty or subspecialty area.
The curriculum, which is currently based on a 100-year-old reform, is outdated. The students cram things they may not need, forget them as soon as they pass exams and undergo little practice while on school.
The curriculum will focus more on health rather than disease, more on wellness rather than sickness.
On a side, the medical terminology will be reformed from Latin to English that any layman can understand.
2 The learning & teaching go digital, tablet-based and app-based
The heavy, print and text-based editions will be replaced by visually-appealing apps in Human Physiology or Human Development Psychopathology on a tablet the students will carry during their school time. They will turn into e-Doctor and their patients into e-Patient. Just like an HP/Dell engineer who has app-based competence in his all machines and models and can diagnose with a touch of a button without the need to memorize all models.
Beyond face-to-face, classroom delivery, there will be other delivery platforms: MOOCs, distance learning, self-access.
We also need to consider about those potential medics who do not want to go through the rigour of medical education (bit have self-taught them), but could be gifted physicians, and how to incorporate them into mainstream.
3 The medical faculty will treat students as peers
Overwhelming, powerplay will find an exit door at medical schools and in residency halls. From the current class size in 3-digits, the number become smaller and each student is treated the way they want: mass customization is the name of game.
Currently, the professors may become dismissive, allusive, distant. Because: that’s the way they had been treated at medical school! This vicious cycle will stop.
Today’s Gen-Y students, who have little respect for authority and low tolerance threshold, will be treated as they want: with a paradoxical blend of a bit of guiding and a bit of autonomy. If their self-esteem is not hurt at the training stage, there’s likelihood that they will treat patients with dignity and empathy when they become physicians.
4 The assessments at all stages will change
From admission to a medical schools to final exam at MD/MBBS or later specialization, assessments will change from current proficiency-testing to their aptitude, drive and preference for this long-haul flight of medical practice.
This Drive Factor may deal with the student and physician dropout ratios. Only those will come and stay who have a passion and can deal with routinized nature of medical profession.
A key role of regulator bodies comes into play here. They too need to be open to newer realities and new times. The balancing act between stringent and pragmatic will need to be revisited.
B Medical Practice
5 We become patient-centered
Because physicians love their profession, and not abhor it, every patient that walks into their door at clinics or hospitals, is treated as an individual and not just a number. Paramedic is treated with dignity by doctors and they, in return, treat patients humanely.
C Healthcare delivery
6 Healthcare delivery becomes easy and cheap
Currently three costs overwhelm the delivery. All three will undergo change.
7 Drugs will become cheaper to make and deliver
So far, R&D has been expensive and a billion-dollar business. It doesn’t need to be that way in future.
Today’s Gen-Y students can create anything provided you are able to excite them enough. Case in point: a 15-year-old created a cancer testing method that was 168-times faster, 400-times more sensitive and 26,000-times cheaper than medical standard. Give them these problems to solve. With problem-based learning (PBL), they can do wonders and can come up with new drugs faster and cheaper.
Thanks to technological innovation, production, warehousing and distribution are becoming effortless. This will help in getting cheaper drugs where these are required.
E Medical equipment
8 With 3D printing, equipment is easy, cheaper to make
Currently, converting a 150-bed into a 300-bed hospital requires significant planning, finances and time. Because the equipment was bulky, hard to get by and was expensive. With technology, particularly wearables and 3D printing, making it all cheaper, smaller, and minimalist, it is now far easier. DIY beds, paperless environment, app-based diagnosis and treatment will make it easy for access to healthcare in large numbers.
F Hospital buildings
9 Crowd-funding and mobile building design & construction will make it easy to build new hospitals at speed
Setting up a hospital, or a teaching hospital, used to be a gigantic task. Only governments, churches, billionaires or foundations could imagine setting up hospitals. No more. Anyone with access to people and social media can crowd-source funding for a new hospital or expanding it.
The innovation in building technologies allow to build hospitals in less time with less money. Moveable buildings will allow hospitals to walk to wherever there are roads and there are patients.
Next section: Medical education