How Healthcare Is Reorganizing Itself


I am Chief Physician Experience Officer at Doximity and Emergency Medicine Faculty at Northwestern Medicine.

As an emergency medicine physician and a digital health executive, I had the opportunity to serve on the pandemic front lines wearing two hats: doctor and “techie.” I’d be lying if I didn’t admit we were all scrambling. Protocols often changed between shifts, and technologies we had never or rarely used quickly became mission critical. We were truly relearning how to practice medicine, and under significant duress.

The pandemic laid bare the myriad inefficiencies and challenges of U.S. healthcare. Many in healthcare today believe our system is broken. We’re facing a significant physician shortage, soaring costs, longer wait times—all with the backdrop of an aging population that will require more care over time.

Despite this, the pandemic also forced our slow-changing, bureaucratic system to innovate rapidly, adopt new technologies and rethink how care is delivered. As the pandemic dust settles, I see four important signs that our system is on the brink of significant reorganization that, if done right, could pave the way for a more patient-centric future.

1. The Ascendance Of Mobile Medicine

Healthcare’s rapid integration of digital and mobile technologies is one of the more striking signs of impending reorganization. These technologies are expanding healthcare access and empowering patients to actively engage in their own well-being.

With telemedicine, patients can access healthcare services remotely, consult specialists from across the system and manage an expanding array of conditions from their homes. In my company’s study, we found that the majority of physicians report telemedicine has increased patient access, with many patients reporting equivalent or superior quality of care.

Mobile health apps and wearables are also empowering individuals to better monitor their health in real time. From tracking daily activity to monitoring vitals, these tools give patients actionable insights that promote preventive care, while fueling providers with very useful data.

Mobile medicine represents a broader paradigm shift from episodic care to continuous, data-driven wellness management. Government initiatives such as the Hospital at Home program further encourage this patient-centric model by creating incentives and reimbursement structures for remote care, even for conditions that traditionally required hospitalization. The long-term result of this shift could be a more productive, accessible and affordable healthcare system for all.

2. A New Age For Medication Development

The pandemic also marked a shift in how patients relate to diseases and potential treatments. Never before had a disease—with no known treatment—been addressed so promptly by multiple companies in parallel, all while the general public watched. Patients, once distant from the details of medication development, found themselves weighing the pros and cons of different vaccine options—an experience more akin to “shopping” than healthcare felt like before.

As patients become accustomed to the accelerated pace of medical advancement, it could fundamentally alter their relationship with the healthcare system. Patients are gaining a sense of empowerment and choice in navigating their treatment options.

As with any significant change, there will be benefits and ramifications, including huge questions around treatment access and the ideal role of regulatory bodies. These will all play out in real time as we rocket down this uncharted path.

3. The Rise Of Private Sector Leadership

Increasingly, private sector entities are taking the lead in healthcare delivery and modernization, driven by shifting patient expectations and increasing demand for innovative solutions.

One notable trend is the continued rise of retail clinics and on-demand healthcare services. Such entities offer services ranging from vaccinations to minor urgent care, meeting patients’ growing needs for accessibility and affordability.

And technology giants continue their push into the healthcare arena, leveraging their vast user bases and expertise in big data and consumer-focused design. Apple, with its growing array of health-centric features, is well-positioned to propel wearables into the mainstream. Meanwhile, Amazon’s acquisitions of Whole Foods, PillPack and One Medical, combined with the nationwide rollout of Amazon Clinic, suggest its potential to create a healthcare ecosystem almost unto itself. Most recently, pharmaceutical giants like Eli Lilly have entered the direct-to-consumer marketplace.

4. AI Solutions

AI-driven solutions hold the potential to enhance diagnostics, streamline administrative tasks and optimize treatment plans—all necessary steps toward boosting physician productivity and advancing patient care.

Healthcare administrative tasks, notorious for their inefficiency, present some of the most practical, near-term targets for AI. Generative AI solutions can streamline clinical documentation, billing and insurance processes, reducing time-consuming paperwork and improving efficiency. Some industry experts predict the rise of a “services-as-software” model in healthcare, which could significantly impact the business of medicine.

While it might seem like an oxymoron, AI could bring back some of the humanity that the practice of medicine might have lost in recent years. Healthcare workers across the country are burned out—many are considering leaving medicine altogether. Automation through AI-powered solutions has amazing potential to reduce administrative burden, freeing up healthcare professionals to focus more on patient care.

For healthcare industry leaders, these trends present both challenges and opportunities. Moving forward, consider the following key bits of advice:

• Invest in AI and analytics. The way society interacts with the explosion of technology in these areas is a trend that cannot be ignored, and they hold immense potential for changing how healthcare is delivered. Early exposure and experimentation here while prioritizing security and privacy will allow us to build trust among patients and healthcare professionals.

• Focus more on patient-centric care. This means reimagining services to be more accessible, convenient and tailored to individual needs.

• Be open to collaborating with the private sector. Collaborations can lead to innovative solutions, expanded service offerings and improved patient experiences. Prioritize alliances that benefit both patients and organizations.

• Address regulatory and ethical considerations head-on. As healthcare continues to become more digital and data-driven, leaders must be transparent about how they navigate complex regulatory and ethical challenges.

• Foster a culture of learning. Invest in training and education to equip the organization with the skills needed to thrive in a more technology-driven healthcare system.

It is difficult to capture how eager I am to see a future where healthcare could be more personalized, efficient and accessible. I believe these factors have the potential to usher in a new era of medicine and allow our system to reorganize itself for the better, so we can continue to adapt and innovate to meet the evolving needs of patients and society.

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