Over this series of posts, we’ve covered many factors and trends that are shaping the scene in international collaborative health. This is a motivating and exciting time in our field, and one thing is certain: Health care is changing faster than ever before.

Can we keep up? Or better yet, can we get ahead and guide health care into groundbreaking, life-changing new territories? Here are some areas that I believe hold great opportunities for the future of international collaborative health:

Value-Based Model
Over the past 30 years, we’ve seen more patients diagnosed with chronic diseases, not just episodic health problems. Meanwhile, treatments have gotten increasingly more complex—and much more expensive. The model is not sustainable.

We are now seeing an accelerated push to move from traditional fee-for-service reimbursement to value-based health care. Rather than charging for each doctor’s visit, medical test or surgery, this model links payment to outcomes—including improved health, higher satisfaction and lower costs for patients. This should help drive the incentive toward prevention rather than treatment.

Personalization of Care
Rising pressures to decrease health care costs globally are forcing a change from a “one-size-fits-all” approach to treatment and medication to personalized, outcome-based therapies.

Precision medicine offers great opportunity to do away with unnecessary treatments, minimizing adverse drug reactions and ultimately maximizing the efficiency of entire health care systems. Precision medicine will harness Big Data to elevate preventive care for chronic disease management, alongside diagnosis and treatment. 

Merging of Talent and Technology
Digital technology is disrupting the nature of work across almost every industry. It’s driving increased automation, affecting where we work, and giving rise to new models of recruiting and staffing.

In health care, technology represents a tremendous opportunity to help resolve challenges such as the shortage of nurses and overextended physician population. Nurses could use digital technology, robotics and other tools to redirect their time from administrative tasks to activities geared more toward patient care and healing. 

Robotic support for lifting patients could reduce physical burdens and injuries. Crowdsourced software could enable more flexibility in staff scheduling, reduce last-minute shift changes and improve care coverage.

Changing where we provide care could allow clinicians to see more patients, increase care for patients with more complex conditions and serve populations across a wider geography. It also could enable clinicians to “practice to the top of their license” and spend more time doing impactful and fulfilling work.

Rather than fearing this wave of change, we can merge talent and technology to improve preventive and clinical care, leverage new therapies and technologies, and expand locations where care is delivered for a better-served patient population.

Standardized Curricula
Medical training varies considerably across the world, and there are no standardized curricula or credentialing processes that are universal country to country.

Medicine is changing, and so are learning methods. If we’re going to keep up with changes in our field—while also contending with a severe shortage in trained clinicians and health care leaders—we need a new model for medical education and training.

We could achieve this with a standardized medical school curriculum that emphasizes patient-centered preventive and clinical training, integrates the latest in technology, and fosters the growth of future academic, clinical and administrative leaders.

Making this opportunity a reality will take a sea change in medical education and training, but it would be well worth considering.

Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment
If we can harness the power of precision medicine—along with Big Data—we’ll have a great opportunity to elevate preventive care for chronic disease management, alongside diagnosis and treatment. By identifying the most beneficial personalized therapies, we’ll make prevention, detection and treatment more precise and affordable, thereby transforming the patient experience.

What do you think? Where do the most exciting opportunities lie as we strive to improve health and health care in our own communities and around the world?

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