THE HEALTHCARE SYSTEM AROUND THE WORLD IS BROKEN.
DO WE TRY TO KEEP FIXING A BROKEN SYSTEM OR EXPLORE DRAMATICALLY DIFFERENT APPROACHES?
Today, no country in the world is able to deal with its healthcare issues, from the most resource rich to the poorest. Why is it that with all the money in the world, some of the most developed countries can’t fix their healthcare problem? How can countries with low resources do something dramatically different to improve health without having to spend a lot of money?
These are some of the questions I have been thinking about during my last twenty years as a healthcare entrepreneur. My most significant insight came through when I realized that the fundamental problem in fixing healthcare is that we keep trying to build solutions centered around hospitals or existing models of healthcare. I started to think about a world where there were no hospitals.
How would we then design a healthcare system? Given the miniaturization of technology and ability to connect anywhere seamlessly, it is also not farfetched to imagine that in the future, hospitals are going to disappear. Or at least in the way as we know them today. They are great for sick-care, but are in no way central to healthcare.
The next question is, if indeed the goal of the healthcare system is to keep people healthy, what is the need for a hospital?
If the goal is to treat sick people, hospitals with their complex systems, surgical tools and diagnostic machines make sense.
However, a hospital is a terrible system to keep people healthy.
They are one piece of the ecosystem, responsible for handling illnesses when it is already late. Technology is advancing at such a rapid rate that most diagnostics and treatments will be carried out at one’s home. That relegates hospitals to performing only the most complex surgeries and handling trauma-related cases.
If hospitals are not going to help us be healthy, what will?
What are the new models emerging and who are the entrepreneurs behind them?
Who are these emerging players that will take over the responsibility of helping us be healthy? And most importantly, what is their game plan?
The answer is fairly obvious but not simple.
In the book “The Healthcare Gamechangers”, we have profiled twelve such companies and entrepreneurs around the world that are building new types of healthcare organizations. Based on an analysis of the models developed by the Healthcare Gamechangers, four key principles seem to be emerging. These healthcare game-changers are building their organizations around these very four principles as a key to success. And most importantly, all four principles are interlinked.
The four key principles identified are as below:
Everyone Plays: Healthcare has traditionally been driven by experts − doctors and specialists in the field. The new game, however, calls for everyone − nurses, technicians, support staff, patients themselves and their families to step up and play a substantial, if not equal, role. People who have been watching their own health and that of their loved ones as outsiders need to become truly involved in the process of prevention and recovery to take away the burden from the crumbling healthcare system.
The Healthcare Gamechanger empowers actors that are not traditionally experts, in most cases leveraging technology, like placing nurses at the center of care, empowering community members to care for each other, and train health workers to diagnose early and help in recovery.
Expands the Playground: The more that care is concentrated in hospitals, the more it will continue to be driven by old rules and notions of illness-focused care. When care goes out of hospitals and into communities, it helps expand the boundaries of what can be included as part of care. More importantly, it makes the individual increasingly accountable for their own wellbeing and not be dependent on medical experts. Breaking down the proverbial and literal walls that are cramping healthcare within clinics and hospitals will allow a two-directional flow of ideas and support with the single aim of a healthier today and tomorrow.
The Healthcare Gamechanger takes a significant part of the care outside of the hospital domain i.e. to home, to the workplace, to schools, to public places like train stations and malls, and even to religious institutions.
Invites New Players: The future of health depends on new players entering this industry, challenging deep-rooted assumptions, and bringing in new thinking. Any organization focused on wellbeing has to necessarily leverage this opportunity and create an open platform for new players to contribute or participate. Playing by the old rules with the same players will not change the game. As always, the more the merrier. Bringing in other experts of say management, technology, design, and the like, is bound to bring with it never heard before solutions to traditional problems that the system is rife with today.
The Healthcare Gamechanger creates connectedness between different and oftentimes, new players, in the health ecosystem like working with organizations in agriculture, education, energy and even entertainment sectors.
Changes the Rules of the Game: The Healthcare Gamechanger organizations understand that at the core of ownership of one’s wellbeing is the shift in the mindset in individuals. And enabling this is the fundamental focus of their organizations.
The Healthcare Gamechanger goes beyond illness care or preventive care of individual diseases, and focuses on a person’s overall wellbeing.
In the book, we attempt to highlight innovations from all around the world and the people behind them who are already playing by the dynamic and prescient rules of the new playbook. This has important lessons for the entire medical community as how the future of healthcare industry, framing of health insurance and individual participation in handling community health should converge to contribute to shift the ill-focused healthcare to an effective health-focused system.
The Healthcare Gamechangers is available on Amazon - https://amzn.to/2R1g8Do
Ashwin Naik is on a mission to catalyze wellbeing and impact.
He is passionate about healthcare access and an advocate for strong primary health as the backbone of healthcare systems worldwide. He consults with organisations around the world, as the founding partner of We Scale Impact. He is also a Resident Fellow at Ashoka, a pioneering network of social entrepreneurs worldwide.
In addition he co-founded Vaatsalya (India’s first rural hospitals network) and Seraniti (India’s first integrated mental health organization). He also leads DisruptHealth, a health focused ecosystem enabler based in Bangalore/Pune and is actively involved in the sector as an advisor and angel investor.
He is the author of two books – The Healthcare Gamechangers, which profiles innovations around the world which have the potential to change the way healthcare is delivered, and #ChangeStartsYoung, a book about young changemakers who are starting as early as 11 years young.
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