Marcus Welby is dead.
The trusted, compassionate doctor, who knew and treated your whole family, has been replaced with ten-minute primary care visits and quick referrals to specialists. The results are frightening. Estimates suggest that only half the patients take their medication as directed. Doctors are discussing adverse events only 35% of the time. Only 30% of surgical patients can name even one risk factor of their surgery. Patients are frustrated, and sometimes desperate.
And don’t think for a minute that physicians are happy about any of this. They no longer control how they practice, what they prescribe, or how much to charge. In fact, half of primary care docs plan to reduce or end their clinical practice in the next three years. This will obviously compound the problem of access and quality to care.
It is inevitable. We will take ownership for our own health, and be the leader of our health team. We will embrace innovative digital technologies to learn and monitor and track. We will embrace the medical home. We will connect with people that share our condition. We will all become “empowered patients.”
In fact, the tipping point is now. For the first time in history, more people are searching the Internet for health information than asking doctors. 75% indicate that the Web the most trusted source of information on ailments and drugs. The massive investment in electronic personal health records over the next two years will open up new possibilities for tracking, insights and sharing.
With great change comes great opportunity. Entrepreneurs, researchers, and life science companies must provide leadership and support to provide patients with new knowledge and skills, to improve health literacy rates, to engage with health consumers who are active on social networks, and to truly empower patients to charge of their own health. There will be plenty of winners in the new model.
Our mission at Krū Research is to nurture the ecosystem of life science professional, Health 2.0 vendors, and individuals who are invested in a patient-centered health system. Our role will be to provide original research, insights, education and forums where we can ourselves connect and learn.
While we can’t bring back the fictional character portrayed by Robert Young, we can work to bring out the Marcus Welby in each of us.