The disruption of the Healthcare Industry

What I learned at the 2016 Exponential Medicine conference

The disruption of the Healthcare Industry

By Hilda Lunderstedt, 20 Oct 2016

BSc (Pharm)


As with most industries, the healthcare industry is set for major disruption over the next 5 – 50 years.

What we have to understand is that innovation is not disruption.  Innovation comes from within the industry and means doing the same things better, but disruption comes from another, often un-related industry.  Disruption is doing new things that make the old things obsolete.  Unless one knows what to look out for, it will be difficult to predict and some might not even see it coming.

Why will healthcare systems be disrupted?  The current system of doing more, but not necessarily better, a world of physician burn-out, dissatisfaction and the changing needs of patients will drive the need to do things differently.

I am going to share a few of my insights, as well as what I think the 10 biggest trends in the disruption of The Healthcare & Medicine industry will be:

1. Treat the whole person, not just the organ


NOW: Currently medical care and specialities are “organ based”.  A cardiologist only looks at the heart, oncologist only cancer, etc.  This model becomes outdated in an era where the patient wants to be treated as a human i.e. the full body.


FUTURE: Healthcare practitioners will be working in multi-disciplinary teams to serve their patients best and the healthcare team will make treatment decisions together, which will result in comprehensive treatment of the person as a whole.

2. Rise of healthcare VS sick care


NOW: The current system is based on incentivisation to treat people when they are sick and very little, if any, incentives to keep people healthy.


FUTURE: Keeping patients healthy will become the focus i.e. preventing the patients from getting sick.  More and more healthcare practitioners are doing integrative and alternative medicines ensuring they focus on therapies to keep patients healthy.  The prevention and early detection trend will disrupt pharma companies.

HealthcareTech3. Fee-for-service remuneration model VS value-and-outcomes based remuneration models


NOW: Currently healthcare practitioners are being paid on a ‘fee-for-service’ basis, which means the more they treat a patient, the more money they earn.  This grows distrust between the healthcare practitioner as a service provider and his/her patient as a customer.


FUTURE:  The current fee-for-service models will move to a value-and-outcomes based model.  This means the healthcare provider will be remunerated on the value added to the patient, how quickly the patients get healthy and how successful the outcomes of treatments are.

4. The rise of functional medicine


NOW: Doctors only take care of the sick patient and the sick organ.  This means that a patient with multiple conditions or ailments will have to see multiple doctors.


FUTURE: Functional medicine will treat the whole patient and not just an organ; the approach is team-based where there are multiple disciplinarians in the team such as doctors, nutritionists and health coaches, just to name a few, that work together to treat and maintain optimal health in a patient.

5. Technology Convergence


NOW: Limited technologies and many processes that are still being done manually, means the healthcare practitioner spends more of his or her time doing paperwork and less on patient work.


FUTURE: It is not one technology, but rather the convergence of several technologies in unexpected ways that will drive disruption in the healthcare industry in the next 10 years.  Technologies such as big data, artificial intelligence, robotics, etc. will remove a lot of the mindless paperwork and doctors will have time to care for their patients again.  This convergence of multiple technologies will create solutions for regions with shortages of doctors or healthcare workers and assist doctors in the responsibility of diagnoses and disrupt how treatment and patient care will take place.  The benefits of robotic technology and virtual assistance are already being experienced.

6. Machine intelligence


NOW: A patient is dependent on a person to make a diagnosis based on his learnings and experience.  This is a big responsibility on the part of the practitioner who can only diagnose by way of elimination and often human error can cause bad experiences and results.  Although there is a lot of data available, it is unstructured, fragmented and untrustworthy, making it almost impossible for the physician to keep up.


FUTURE: With the rise of artificial intelligence, we will see data transformed to information and knowledge and then to intelligence.  This will ignite the move from ‘evidence based’ medicine to ‘intelligence based’ medicine.  This will put the human aspect back into healthcare, where machines can do what they do best and physicians can be human and care for the patient.  This has already been seen in medical imaging and biomedical diagnostics where machine intelligence makes better diagnoses.  To put it bluntly, data is the new oil.

Brain Cloud7. Personalised medicines


NOW: Medicine is made the same way for everyone.  The dosage might differ, but there is no personalised medicine tailoring to an individual’s specific needs.


FUTURE: Based on individual genomics and biomics, each individual will be treated as that and be able to receive treatments based on their specific needs.  3D printing will further assist to drive the move to personalised treatments.

8. Patient – physician partnerships


NOW: Generally, patients are not informed enough and the doctor has the responsibility to ensure he knows everything.


FUTURE: Patients will have access to information and knowledge and, together with their healthcare team, take ownership of their treatments and therapies.  They will self-manage and become active contributors to their own health.  With 30% of diseases stemming from genetics and 60% being lifestyle related, almost 90% of sick people can be treated and diseases can be prevented with early detection, education and support.

WearableTech9. Rise of the wearables and then to “insidables”


NOW: A few wearable devices measures a few vital statistics and activity levels.  With all the information and data generated, there is still nothing informing the patients what all of it means.


FUTURE: The use of wearables will expand and all vital signs will be able to be monitored on site or even remotely (as data is uploaded to the cloud).  Any changes in vital statistics will be communicated to the patient and/or doctor, providing a higher level of preventative care.

Over time, we will see the rise of “insidables” – microchips or implants measuring and monitoring every vital statistic and organ in the body and communicating any changes in order to assist with prevention and early detection of diseases.  As the internet of things grow, and sensors connectivity increase, everything and everyone will be connected.

10. The future cannot be predicted – what we will see in 5 years does not exist now


NOW: Learning and education is still based on ways of the past, which is often already outdated.


FUTURE: The education model will change significantly to incorporate the future that cannot be predicted and the products that will change the world in 5 years, does not even exist yet.  We will see the increase of a bigger role on entrepreneurship in healthcare.  The NHS in the UK has started with their ‘clinical entrepreneur’ program for doctors focusing on coaching, advanced internships, building connections with patients and creating education and networking events.  Already, the benefits of this have been experienced in new technologies being developed.

Physicians will learn to work in high performance teams.  Leadership skills, as well as the willingness to encourage new ideas, will be crucial in enabling this new framework.


The future can be quite scary, but we can either be scared of it, and live our lives in fear, or we can embrace it and revel in all its glory.  Either way, the new future of healthcare is here.


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