Healthcare's future needs you. But do you have these 4 attributes?
It's easy to imagine a future when your phone knows you more than your doctor. It's also not difficult to foresee the future of healthcare's challenges.
Global population bursting in its seams at 8.5 billion by 2030. Chronic illnesses continuing unabated. Newer viruses. Increased scrutiny and regulations. Healthcare occupying a greater portion of global GDP.
In such a healthcare future, are there certain attributes that are more useful than some others? Here are a few for you to think about.
#1: Empathy with a good ounce of rationality
Healthcare attracts people who wish to serve others. Reduce suffering. Those with empathy.
In an age of AI-controlled robots treating us, we will yearn for the human touch. More than ever. A programmer who can also feel for the patient is better than a programmer.
But, empathy tends to sidestep rationality. We need pragmatic decision makers to run profitable enterprises. Healthcare needs people who can be both business savvy and empathetic at the same time.
#2: Clear thinking in a data deluge
We are racing towards exabytes of medical information. More information doesn't mean more wisdom. In fact, anything more dilutes our ability to focus.
We need people who can retain their ability to think clearly. Instruct machines and people alike to make wise choices.
What do you think will happen when we apply Watson APIs on templated data that most EHRs churn out?
That's right. Watson in, garbage out.
Imagine making decisions with that kind of information. And even believing that we are doing the right thing for patients.
# 3: Connecting people, machines, systems
In medicine, the old and new co-exist. But everything operates in silos.
For example, there are 2 million imaging devices (500K by GE). GE says its Health Cloud will be capable of connecting those devices. For real interoperability, we need all systems talking and sharing information.
Eventually, most devices will become smart or obsolete. We will generate loads of data. The question is do we have the ability to put that data to good use?
We need people who get interoperability. Systemic thinkers who can see the forest from the trees. Then, the dots will be more connected.
# 4: Broad, interdisciplinary thinking
When we deliver blood via drones. When genetic programming 101 becomes part of the school curriculum. When we 3D print diseased organs before surgery. We will need cowboys who can hop in and out of many disciplines. From aerodynamics to biology.
Broad-thinking generalists, not only specialists. Such as Gavriel Iddan, an electrical engineer who worked on guided missiles. He developed video capsule endoscopy. PillCam is an alternative to traditional colonoscopy - to see inside someone's gut.
What happens next?
Getting to the future is a messy business. Not everything happens at the same time. Things happen in spurts. Nothing coordinates.
Read: A million jobs in healthcare's future (Explore career trends. In genetic programming, lab-on-a-chip, drone delivery, longevity, AI, mindfulness, 3D printing, insurance, cancer)
When I observe people who've been in healthcare for long. People who've been in our company for a decade or longer (with this year, we'll have 10). Or longtime clients. I observe that some people thrive and some survive.
The ones who thrive know why they are here. Often go beyond themselves. They navigate changes in the industry with relative ease. They are unlearning constantly. They are analytical thinkers. They can go deep or wide without blinking.
Louis Pasteur figured out that heating milk and cooling it, killed harmful bacteria. In thinking broadly, he discovered germ theory 150 years ago. With empathy, he worked on vaccines that prevented many diseases.
These attributes were around back then.
They are around now.
They will be around 150 years from now.