in the future of medicine, consumers will be both the patient and the doctor.

The medicine business is changing. Multiple shifts of several dynamic levels have begun to take swings at the age-old, traditional structure of how we research, diagnose, treat and cure illnesses and diseases in America.

It is also doing the same on the consumer/patient side of the equation. How we operate, and what we experience in the medicine business as patients/consumers is already rapidly changing — and will only continue to more so.

The days of you visiting the doctor within the day or two of having symptoms or need for care, fully or significantly covered by medical insurance, finished with a treatment plan, are pretty much over. The new era of healthcare and medicine is turning a greater responsibility (and therefore role) on consumers — financially, but also in driving and navigating their care, treatments, and other aspects of their health the majority of consumers have not before.

When medical insurance no longer covers these smaller visits, the burden of cost falls on the consumer. Or, if the illness is specifically demanding, a speciality, etc. Medical insurance is increasingly being declined by doctors, medical centers, etc., or packages just do not cover this type of care. It also takes longer to get appointments than ever, and many areas lack enough doctors in speciality fields, certain age demographics, and illnesses.

With price becoming more of an object to consumers, with less financial support from the industry, patient choice isn’t about being able to see the doctor they’d like. It’s choosing whether or not to have your minor surgical treatment that is not covered by your medical insurance at the hospital for $10,000, or at the surgery center, which offers operating and recovery space as needed to doctors for $2,500.

Or, whether or not you really need that minor surgical treatment at all.

Since it’s your money out the door, it’s up to you to decide. Add to this the increasing number of medications available, including pharmaceuticals, but also the growing natural, holistic and integrated medicine options. Consumers are already taking a more significant role in the treatments they choose, including carefully weighing side effects and price — sometimes with minimal physician help outside of being involved and giving input/recommendation as needed.

Instead of automatically choosing the treatment (including drugs/medications) recommended, consumers will need to look into their options, discuss with their physician and make choices we have not truly had to before.

The general medical practice will be the most disrupted. Consumers will make an effort to identify when a visit to the doctor is really needed, or when it can wait. For many (millions) it will likely mean not seeing a doctor at all.

Navigating the healthcare world and its patient options and costs, had until today been something limited to the chronically ill, trauma patients, and others affected by relatively serious/serious illnesses. Now, it’ll be everyone. It’ll be increasingly at consumer cost, where we’ll likely see more brokering, physician specials, promotions, and other perks — as well as the ownership of our diagnosis, treatment and care in the consumer’s hands more than ever. Doctors will play a new role, one of more strategic support and tactical service. The hospital will become increasingly flexible, where doctors can negotiate better, set pricing for their patients as patients continue to take on a greater financial burden. It’ll also drive a huge boom in new ideas and solutions to solve support and service needs, access, and other issues that traditionally were managed by insurance companies, medical centers, and doctors.

In the future of medicine, consumers will be both the patient and their own doctor. It’s already happening, and will only continue to do so increasingly more than ever.

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