Unfortunately, too many of those who seek to disrupt healthcare have dollar signs in their eyes, making it impossible for them to see and acknowledge their ignorance—their lack of any real insight in the daily practice of healthcare. Those with the practical experience to help shape a better system that integrates the potential efficiencies of telemedicine, machine learning, and big data with current practice patterns in order to provide efficient and high-quality care are too often relegated to the sidelines; changes are imposed upon them from above by people with no understanding of the potential unintended consequences of their unilateral decisions.
I believe the US healthcare system is poised for significant change in the coming years. This may be rudderless navigation directed overwhelmingly by profiteering individuals from a business and technology background, merely seeking a short-term exit strategy to maximize their wealth rather than a true transformation of healthcare in a meaningful, beneficial way. But there are new entrants in the healthcare arena who may have the more noble goal of creating a US healthcare system that truly works, rather than being dragged down by colossal inefficiencies and the deliberate foot-dragging of the incumbent stakeholders who benefit from this. The recently announced collaboration among Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan to create and demonstrate a path to efficient medical care in America may have the needed power and, possibly, the long-term vision to execute on this promise.
To do so, it will be critical to welcome the participation not only of the medical dilettantes who consider themselves experts because they technically still see a few stray patients as a small fraction of their workweek, but the vast majority of working doctors who unfortunately remain an afterthought of far too many who expect to redefine how healthcare is delivered. At the same time, physicians who fit that bill and care for patients day to day should strive to play a more active role in these initiatives. We only have the right to not be shepherded around by those outside healthcare if we, as practicing physicians, are not complacent enough to act like sheep.