Global convergence in the future of healthcare. Are you ready?
This wasn't the usual South African clinic.
We were inside a high security prison for illegal immigrants. On the outskirts of Johannesburg.
Stroking his beard the doctor told me, "Some of them get arrested for a free ride home. First, the authorities bring them here for a few days. Then they drop them at the border. Our clinic has to make sure they don't get sick."
Then he began sounding so much like doctors in America.
"We must digitize. But it mustn't slow us down."
"Patients don't listen to instructions."
"Nothing integrates here. We need our systems talking to this, this and this."
Global like your local Starbucks
Healthcare issues are so local that we fail to realize how global we've actually become.
South America. Africa. Asia. Middle-East. Whichever part of the world you look. Healthcare is looking more similar than dissimilar.
With increased sanitation, communicable diseases like malaria are on the decline. With increased prosperity, non-communicable diseases like diabetes are on the rise.
In a city like Mumbai or Johannesburg, you'll find that both disease conditions co-exist often within walking distance.
4 pillars of healthcare delivery
Observe these four essential pillars of healthcare. These are applicable wherever healthcare is delivered. Notice the convergence.
- Disease: Types of diseases are more common (e.g. hypertension). Reasons of disease are also more common (e.g. stress). Country after country, disease burden is on the rise.
- Diagnosis. Our approach to arrive at a diagnosis is getting similar (e.g. via lab tests, examinations and consultations).
- Cure. Therapies are common (e.g. procedures are similar, guidelines are more common).
- Pay. Sometimes it's the government or the individual that pays. But today it's more likely that you have an insurance company covering you.
You will notice that everyone is moving in the same direction. Everywhere.
Future of healthcare needs a global mindset
Extrapolate these trends of disease and healthcare delivery. What do you think is going to happen in the future? Yes, a lot more convergence.
You could delve into a specific area such as in Health IT. You will hear the same language. Technology standards. Interoperability issues. Burdensome complexity.
Healthcare administrators fret about the same issues from Manama to Miami. Productivity of doctors and staff. Expensive technology. Lack of available skills.
In global healthcare, the good and bad news is the same: Whether we sink or sail, everyone is in this together.
So where do you begin?
Today's business environment is unpredictable. Technological changes are wiping out old business models faster.
A global mindset reduces risk for business. Particularly in healthcare because things are changing quickly.
But where do you begin?
1) Think differently about talent
Start by exploring new-age outsourcing tools like Fiverr or Freelancer or Upwork. From drawings of the anatomy to voice-overs, we've used these tools to reach global talent. It's made our work richer.
A friend from a Fortune X company recently hired material science engineers in East Europe. These engineers reinvented a core product design for the company without really knowing who they were working for.
As head of R&D, my friend told his bosses only after he completed the pilot. It cost the company 1/20th the expense and brought about a shift in mindset.
Salim Ismael writes about this evolving exponential organizational mindset.
Today's companies are built for a linear world - closed and topdown. They evolved more than a hundred years ago.
That world doesn't exist anymore. Changes are exponential today.
2) Build partnerships with your global colleagues
Do this little experiment.
Go to LinkedIn and search for what you do in a completely different geography. Search for an industry-specific health IT standard like "HL7". You'll find people in UK, Australia, Egypt and elsewhere.
Reach out and build partnerships. You will find a need in the most unexpected places.
U.S. certifications are sought after in emerging markets. Like JCAHO, operated by Joint Commission, a non-profit body based in Chicago.
Brazil introduced ICD-10 in 1996. China in 2002. South Africa in 2005. U.S. shifted from ICD-9 to ICD-10 much later in 2015.
Healthcare is changing.
To think differently, look beyond what you can see.
And ask this question: what's not so different here?