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Why Medicine Is About to Go the Way of Walmart

What's the Latest Development?

Information technology will change health care in ways similar to how Amazon changed the landscape of the retail industry. Because larger institutions can use information technology better than small ones—to manage inventories, create consistency, automate routine activities, and lower prices—small hospitals and private physicians will turn to larger corporate bodies to cover the costs of information technology. Harvard economist professor David Cutler said: "I suspect most cities will go from 10 to 15 independent institutions a decade ago to three to five large health-care systems a decade hence."

What's the Big Idea?

While doctors have traditionally relied on their own experience, treatment data on thousands of patients, who have seen hundreds of different doctors, can now be made available to individual physicians. Where we receive treatment, and from whom, will change as well. "With an electronic backbone in place, one doesn’t need to see a doctor for every issue. There is little the primary care doctor does that can’t—and increasingly isn’t—being done by a nurse practitioner, perhaps at a clinic in a Walmart or CVS." IT systems will also reimagine the role of the patient, from recipient of treatment to a collaborator in the healthcare process.

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at MIT Technology Review

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