Review: Joe Public 2030 - Five Potent Predictions Reshaping How Consumers Engage Healthcare
Imagine it’s 2030 – what does the healthcare landscape look like in this country? Will there be more choices than ever for consumers, enabling improved care and better health outcomes? Or will we find ourselves with better technology and more options for some people, while most Americans find themselves increasingly constrained by what the government and private insurers will actually pay for?
Making predictions is a gamble – just ask anyone who predicted anything about COVID in the last two years – but it can be a valuable exercise. In the latest entry of the “Joe Public” series, Chris Bevolo – with input from some of the best minds in our industry – tries to answer those questions.
The 100-word review
Let’s cut right to the chase – just go ahead and buy Joe Public 2030. Preparing for the future while dealing with the needs of the present and shaking off the burdens of the past is a challenging task in any industry. It’s especially complex for healthcare organizations, but it’s essential for those that want to do more than just survive during the next decade. Joe Public explores critical concepts and makes bold predictions that will stimulate creative thinking. If you don’t read books (you really should), check out this discussion group on LinkedIn to get some sample insights.
The full review
You’re still here? OK, good.
When it comes to predictions about the future of healthcare, I usually react with a healthy dose of skepticism. Admittedly, I react that way to just about everything.
That brings me to Joe Public 2030. Here’s how Bevolo describes the book:
“… (it) explores five key ways consumer health engagement may change over the coming decade, covering everything from AI and personal monitoring to consumerism, new competition, the politicization of healthcare, and growing health disparities. The book makes five bold predictions about that future, which range from exciting and promising to ominous and discouraging.”
Those five predictions are based on insights developed by a team of researchers, strategists, and futurists with input from 22 industry experts, including health system CEOs, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs and physicians.
That sounds like a solid foundation to approach the topic. Here are the five predictions:
The Copernican Consumer: Consumers will become the center of their own health universe more than ever before, enabled by sensors, AI, and other technology, as well as services geared toward empowering them, leading to profound implications for both consumers and healthcare organizations. Potential results could include a dramatic reduction in the need for primary care clinicians, an entirely new sector devoted to personal health management, true precision medicine combined with health management, and more.
Constricted consumerism: While consumers will become increasingly responsible for their own health and use of healthcare services, they will actually become less and less empowered in the choices they have for care, especially in higher-acuity, higher-cost situations. While many in the industry will continue to sing the praises of choice, the reality is most consumers will have far fewer choices moving forward, often in ways they might never ever consider or see.
The Funnel Wars: Today we tend to consider hospitals and health systems as birds of the same feather in terms of business model, with variances based on size, scope of services, for-profit/non-profit, and other factors. Moving forward, we could see the splitting of the health system model, with some systems moving even further to the larger, more comprehensive “health” organizations, others retracting into solely acute-care destinations – the “giant ICU on a hill” – and others somewhere in the middle.
Rise of Health Sects: Challenges to and skepticism of the mainstream medical field and science itself have exploded in the past two years because of the pandemic and political tribalism in the U.S. Anti-vaxxers, non-maskers and Covid deniers are just the start of an expansion of this distrust of experts, which taken to its potential end could result in multiple “health sects” – primary “schools” of medical thought that coalesce around political/world-views.
Disparity Dystopia: The Covid-19 pandemic shone an ugly light on the disparities that have plagued the U.S. healthcare system for decades. Unfortunately, that health gap is more likely than not to expand, as the “haves” gain access to increasingly more expensive medical treatments, health services, and personalized care, while the “have nots” will face growing shortages of basic health resources, from clean water and air to physicians and clinicians, rural healthcare, and more.
Each of these predictions is explored at length in the book. I don’t want to give away too many details, but I think there is validity in each scenario.
So, what's most interesting to me?
Constricted consumerism is the most interesting concept to me. People might have more options than ever in 2030, but not be able to use them depending on who is paying for the care and devices they need to manage their health.
For most products and services in our lives, we actually WANT to be active consumers. We want to find deals and research products. Nobody WANTS to do that with healthcare. In some ways, it’s a more like a highly personal commodity – electricity, water, etc. – but with higher stakes and more choices to make. We are forced into becoming consumers when we have to with unexpected and unpleasant health conditions.
The solution isn’t just throwing choices at consumers, that’s just another level of complexity. We need to enable their choices.
Yet that raises the question of who enables those choices and how? In many cases it will be your insurance provider – a commercial or government payer.
There might be a wealth of choices available to you, but your ability to pay for things is often not solely up to you as your insurance is picking up most or all of the cost.
Overall, constrained consumerism might be where the biggest challenge lies for those of us working in hospitals and health systems. We have to position our offerings to be the choice that will be both desired by consumers AND paid for by the insurers making the final decisions.
The bottom line on Joe Public 2030
This is a fun, insightful and fast-paced read. Whether you’ve read the previous books in the Joe Public series is not a limiting factor. It's easy to jump right into the content. This is essential reading for anyone working in healthcare today. You can find Joe Public 2030 here on Amazon.
Disclaimer: I received a preview copy of Joe Public 2030: Five Potent Predictions Reshaping How Consumers Engage Healthcare for free. I’ve also worked for a client of Revive Health, where Bevolo is Chief Brand Officer. Neither of those things influenced my review of the book, but I thought you might want to know.