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A 2050 Vision for Healthcare

Miles David Romney, Co-Founder, CTO and On-Staff Futurist of U.S. virtual care company eVisit, envisions what telehealth will look like in the year 2050.

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I have a vision for virtual care in 2050, where our morning showers-of-the-future are focal to proactive, holistic patient care.

Imagine waking gently at 6 a.m., not to the buzz an alarm, but smoothly by a process that feels as natural as can be, steadily deployed by an app in your micro-implant. You stand and stretch, pass through the kitchen where you grab the cup of coffee that’s already waiting for you. You stare out at the sun rising over the landscape stretching at your feet while you peruse a few headlines, not on a mobile device or a hanging display, but rather, through your implant, and its ocular — or maybe neurological —interface.

Then you walk to the bathroom, slip out of your pajamas, and step into the shower. Before the water starts, though, you hear the hum of a full-body scan, and feel the soft nipping of a half-dozen instruments collecting samples, and cataloguing vitals.

Results are analyzed real-time by AI, and sent to your care team for validation. A transdermal infuser pushes a cocktail into your blood: vitamins, relaxants, pain killers, beta blockers, anxiolytics, TNF inhibitors, even stimulants (your coffee is decaf). All synthesized in response to your current blood chemistry, and carefully balanced against one another.

When the steam roils up from beneath you and the hot water sprays down from above, you already feel like a new person.

Your doctors are still involved. And when it comes time for a conversation, you’ll have it — remotely, over video or VR. Your healthcare is all at your fingertips, but you’re only as aware of it as you want to be. Until a health crisis hits, and when it does, the local infrastructure will exist to treat it, because your virtual care has largely been flowing through it, informing it, funding it.

There’s no taking time off of work to drive down to a medical center, no hassling with parking, no fighting to schedule with five different doctors, losing your lab orders and having to drive into the clinic to get a replacement, no accidental drug-on-drug interactions, or a drop in drug efficacy because of your own evolving chemistry.

No. 

Many of your vitals are collected and monitored continually through your implant. Others come daily, when you step into your shower. All of them flow in real time through AI and your flesh-and-blood care team at a frequency and with a granularity that would be the envy of any Ferrari mechanic. Your body will be, as it were, a well-oiled machine.

That’s my vision story.  Vision is important to paint a picture and helps guide an organization’s path forward, filter decisions and drive toward goals.  As healthcare leaders across the globe are likely working through various virtual care models applied to your unique organization and distinct clinical workflows, creating a vision with an official vision statement and sharing this frequently among colleagues, partners, and others in the industry is key to getting there.

We all need partners to achieve vision. In fact, there will be many players involved in making my healthcare vision a reality. 

Create a Vision and Find Partners That Align

As you evolve your virtual care strategy be mindful of technology partners that share your vision and can unlock and enable it. When vetting potential telehealth partners, ask questions about their vision and mission and make sure their answers line up with your own. 

Your telehealth partner’s vision is important because it influences everything about the way they design, execute and deliver their product.  Also, look at the questions potential partners ask you and your team. If they seem to be looking out for your strategy, goals and success, that’s a great sign. Tech partners that enhance and empower your strategies will help you achieve your long-term vision. 

In our very first meeting with Envision Healthcare in 2019, it was obvious that we both saw the immense value in telehealth. We agreed, it’s more than a tech platform, it’s a strategic, innovative approach to deliver high-quality care to people wherever they are.

Juli Stover, Vice President of Virtual Health Strategies, Envision Health, said, “As we’ve developed solutions to support the delivery of patient care, we have hit our share of challenges, but our shared vision always serves as our North Star.”

A shared vision has been crucial to the successful partnership between our two organizations. As a national medical group, Envision Healthcare delivers care when and where it’s needed most. The group’s clinicians care for more than 32 million patients in hospitals and outpatient facilities in communities across the U.S. eVisit became a partner with Envision in Nov. 2020 with the launch of Envision’s Emergency Department Transitional Care program, a virtual care solution for patients who have been discharged from the hospital and need follow-up care.

Post-Pandemic Pivot

It’s tough to contemplate the silver linings of events as impactful and tragic as the COVID-19 pandemic. But they’re there. Telehealth, a technology ripe for proliferation and essential to scaling healthcare, was propelled into the mainstream. Whatever you and your team are calling it—virtual care, remote care, telehealth or telemedicine—it’s here to stay.

According to the Gartner 2020 Market Guide for Virtual Care Solutions:COVID-19 has fueled unprecedented demand for virtual care. Healthcare providers are now moving from their initial investments in tactical virtual care solutions to building long-term strategic virtual care capabilities.”  Source: Gartner, “Market Guide for Virtual Care Solutions,” Sharon Hakkennes, Pooja Singh, 26 October 2020.

Whether you jumped in with a two-way video solution or are using the telehealth add-on feature of your EHR system, wherever you may be in your virtual care maturity model, as healthcare leaders you are likely working hard to keep pace. 

Set your vision, share it and use it as a beacon to drive your path forward. 

Onward in health! 

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