It’s a whole new world. The old way of practicing medicine is just that- an old way of doing things. While it took us a while to get to this point, I can say confidently this new world of healthcare will be better for all of us: doctors, patients and the people who pay for healthcare services.
Many of us got into medicine to be independent, to make our own decisions based on our own best judgments and now we’re being asked to join group practices, follow protocols, and take advice from a computer. We’ve always treated sick people, but now we are trying harder than ever to keep them well. We used to bill for single services, but now we have to look at the whole continuum of care. Things have changed.
For the first time in human history, we have the science and computational power to help physicians quickly sort through vast troves of medical literature to determine what actions are best for each patient at each stage of diagnosis and treatment. It would be virtually unethical not to put these tremendous resources to work to improve care and lower costs.
For doctors, it means extra time at the computer, but with each keystroke we are adding to the informational treasure of our patients, our offices, and medical researchers for generations to come. Information technology is helping us to control and direct the cost revolution that is coming to healthcare as surely as it had already come to manufacturing, retail, airlines and other industries.
What will the future look like? We will have a leaner, more efficient, and more integrated system. Large networks of providers will share comprehensive, evidence-based guidelines and provide personalized healthcare services in patient- and family-friendly settings, under the direction of the highly skilled and compassionate medical professionals. It’s a future we can all look forward to with confidence.