FutureWire - futurism and emerging technology

Friday, May 06, 2005

Four Threats to the Health Care Industry

Noted futurist Bruce Sterling writes in Wired that the status quo in health care is threatened by disruptive innovations. Though the general idea shouldn't surprise anyone, Sterling's specific observations are of great interest, and go beyond the usual concerns over Medicare reductions and health savings accounts.

Sterling says that health care exhibits all the symptoms of an industry ripe for disruption:

[C]rippling regulation, overcharged customers, enraged victims with deep grudges, unnecessary goods and services, and a massive base of underserved wretches. The remarkably unhealthy US population blows more money on medicine than any other nation in the world, yet gets sicker anyhow.

The four scenarios for health care that Sterling points out are:

  • "Medical tourism," with US patients going outside the country for faster, cheaper and safer medical procedures.
  • Alternative medicine being taken more seriously, with primary care physicians having to compete with massage therapists, herbalists and the like.
  • Self-diagnosis with OTC diagnostic tests and Internet-based medical information.
  • Seniors embracing age-extending biotech and gene therapy at the expense of more traditional medicine.

Source: Wired, WorldChanging