“The first is workforce innovation. Chronic conditions require a different skill and workforce mix, orbiting around primary care. This means fewer specialists in hospitals, but more nurses, allied health professionals and para-professionals (for example, fitness and nutritional experts) working in the community.
Interestingly, workforce innovation is most advanced in countries such as India or Brazil, where the key challenge is a shortage of skilled professionals. We have much to learn from their experience.
The second type of innovation is self-care. In industries such as air travel and banking, consumers now assume many tasks that were previously the responsibility of providers. Similar opportunities to shift the boundary between provider and patient abound in healthcare, mediated by technology and enabled by patient up-skilling.
Not only could self-care offer the potential of more cost-effective services, there is also evidence that it improves outcomes for those suffering from asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, diabetes and other common conditions. Patients involved in their own care are often more satisfied, too.
A final area is around personalised medicine. It is hard to overstate the changes this paradigm shift could entail for health systems. New preventive, diagnostic and therapeutic services will need to be designed that are tailored to individuals’ specific genomic and other biomarkers.
Patients will need to understand their particular risk profile and what they can do to prevent disease. For other members of the health ecosystem, such as pharmaceutical firms, a whole new way of doing business will need to be found”
In his wrap up Lord Ara Darzi warns that “Stagnation is as likely as progress” so I think it’s critical that we work to highlight the basic ingredients that we need to have to ensure these changes happen and will benefit patients.
If I had to pick 2 they would be:
1) For it to be compulsory to provide patients with online access to their medical data
2) For carers to start enabling their patients to document their own medical history.
What do you think are the key changes we need to see made to ensure health services remain sustainable?