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Clinician of the Future


The clinician of the future, like today’s clinician, will be knowledgeable and skilled across a range of competencies, from clinical to digital. But the way clinicians work and the demands on them are likely to look different in the future. Elsevier Health developed the Clinician of the Future study and global report to explore trends and changes that will impact the future of healthcare – and therefore shape the clinician of the future. On the basis of a series of interviews, a large-scale global survey and roundtable discussions with key opinion leaders and students, we have pictured the clinician of the future from five perspectives, highlighting different aspects of their roles and the healthcare systems in which they might be working in 10 years’ time. Each of the five essays in the report looks at the clinician of the future from a different angle; the future clinician will most likely encompass all of these projections with some having a stronger focus in certain areas. The Future Clinician as a Partner for Health For details, see Chapter 1 on page 11 In the Clinician of the Future survey, more than half of clinicians around the world (56%) agreed patients have become more empowered to manage their own conditions over the last decade. Despite the increase in the use of technology and remote consulting, 82% of clinicians agreed that soft skills such as listening and being empathetic have become increasingly important among clinicians in the last decade. Clinicians also shared that they are pressed for time: only half (51%) of clinicians agreed the amount of time they are able to spend with patients is sufficient to give them good care. Drivers of change ± More informed patients: in the survey, 86% of clinicians agreed the rise of patients informed about their health conditions is driving healthcare change ± Patient-consumers: 90% of clinicians who responded to the survey agreed that quality measures, including patient satisfaction, have driven change in healthcare in the last decade The decade ahead – key findings from the Clinician of the Future study ± 62% of clinicians agreed the role of the clinician will change to be more of a partnership with the patient in 10 years’ time ± 51% of clinicians agreed telehealth will negatively impact their ability to demonstrate empathy with patients ± 56% agreed patients will be more empowered to take care of their own health ± 77% of clinicians expect real-time patient analytics to be critical to personalized care in the future ± 43% expect every individual will have their genome sequenced to support illness prevention The clinician of the future Working in partnership with their patients, the clinician of the future is adept at utilizing health data and advanced clinical insights to make informed decisions. They communicate with patients in a variety of ways, from limited virtual check-ins to in-person consultations at patients’ homes. Clinicians’ patients have much greater control over their own medical records and health data. To keep up with the latest developments, the clinician of the future has more dedicated time set aside to learn and embrace new digital approaches.

The Future “Total Health” Clinician For details, see Chapter 2 on page 35 Clinicians believe governmental policies are important: in the Clinician of the Future survey, 89% of respondents agreed policies are a key driver of change. But few believe that the government priorities on healthcare are the right ones – only 42% of respondents agreed. They believe change is needed – 79% agreed there is not enough being done on preventive care. There are different approaches taken to managing health around the world, from universal healthcare to private systems, and finance was a broad concern globally: 68% of survey respondents agreed there is too much focus on cost rather than care; agreement was particularly high in North America (82%) and Europe (74%). Drivers of change ± Population growth and aging: 93% identified the ageing population as a key driver of change, and 84% of clinicians believe patients with ageassociated diseases will make up the majority of the patient population in 10 years ± Noncommunicable diseases: 71% of clinicians agreed there will be an increase in comorbidities among younger patients in 10 years ± Empowered patients: The move toward patientcentered care is driving a preventive approach The decade ahead – key findings from the Clinician of the Future study ± 73% of clinicians globally identified that in 10 years’ time managing public health will be a key priority in their role ± 56% of clinicians expect a much higher proportion of patients will attend regular mandated health check-ups in the future, rising to 80% in China ± Clinicians expect to work in a diverse expanded team, which not only reflect the local population (62% agree it will) but include experts such as data analysts ± Clinicians told us they believe there will be better alignment between all the stakeholders involved in the delivery of healthcare The clinician of the future The clinician of the future will get a head-start on health, taking a preventive approach and working with people to enable them to manage their own mental and physical health before they become ill – including through regular checkups. This will be helpful given the growing patient population, as the rate of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) rises and the population ages. The clinicians’ education will have been focused not just on clinical knowledge and transferrable skills like communication, but also on leadership, finance management and data science. With a broader view of the healthcare system and a role in policy, the clinician will be shaping care and focused on health span not life span. They work in the healthcare setting and beyond, as part of an interdisciplinary team. As they are financially incentivized to promote patients’ health through value-based care rather than treat their disease, cost has less of an impact on their decision making. They work within an integrated healthcare system that focuses on prevention. The Future Tech-Savvy Clinician For details, see Chapter 3 on page 51 Today’s clinicians are already using technology in their day-to-day work: in the Clinician of the Future survey, 88% of respondents agreed that being technologically savvy is more important in a clinician’s daily role today than it was a decade ago. But the rise of digital technology and amount of data are taking a toll: 69% of clinicians agreed that the volume of patient data is overwhelming. In the interviews and roundtables held as part of the Clinician of the Future study, clinicians noted frustrations with the electronic medical record (EMR), which they believe are an administrative burden. Drivers of change ± Big Data are getting bigger: the volume of data created, captured, copied and consumed globally is expected to reach 181 zettabytes in 20251 ± COVID-19 has accelerated tech: public interest in telehealth increased during the pandemic, according to an analysis of Google Trends™2 Clinician of the Future 6 The decade ahead – key findings from the Clinician of the Future study ± 70% of clinicians agreed the widespread use of digital health technologies will enable the positive transformation of healthcare ± 63% expect most consultations to be remote in 10 years ± 69% of clinicians agreed digital health technologies will be a challenging burden ± 64% agreed the impact of health inequalities will be exacerbated by digital technology ± 56% of clinicians expect they will make most decisions using clinical decision support tools that use artificial intelligence (AI) in 10 years’ time The clinician of the future The clinician of the future works in a system that is dependent on digital technology, and positively transformed as a result. Day to day, most of their consultations are virtual, and they use interoperable digital health software to manage patent communication, maintain patient records and help them make clinical decisions. They have all the data they need at their fingertips, and tech that uses artificial intelligence to highlight the most relevant information. Although they need to keep up with fast-changing tech, and will be challenged by it, they will ensure they are able to maintain empathy in a digital setting. The Future Balanced Clinician For details, see Chapter 4 on page 73 Today’s clinicians often report feeling overworked, overwhelmed and burned out. Full-time employed clinicians surveyed work 50 hours on average, and only 57% agreed they have a good work–life balance. Many feel their roles are changing for the worse: 71% of doctors in the USA and 66% in the UK agreed their roles have become worse in the last 10 years. They recognize that they need support: 26% of clinicians surveyed agreed wellbeing support is a top priority. Yet in spite of all of this they love what they do, in the survey, 85% of respondents agreed that they enjoy their jobs. Drivers of change ± Changing roles: 63% of clinicians agreed the role of the doctor has changed considerably and 66% for the nurse’s role ± Digital tech: 69% of clinicians agreed that the volume of patient data is already overwhelming ± COVID-19: 97% of clinicians agreed the pandemic is a key driver for change The decade ahead – key findings from the Clinician of the Future study ± 74% of clinicians agreed there will be a shortage of nurses and 68% agreed there will be a shortage of doctors ± 41% of clinicians expect to be seen as less valuable to patients ± 69% of clinicians agreed digital health technologies will be a challenging burden The clinician of the future With global clinician shortages putting pressure on their time, the clinician of the future has a challenging workload. They love their job and their role is dynamic and engaging. When work pressure affects their mental wellbeing, they can lean on support systems – including digital technologies – provided by their employer, and they are part of peer support groups. They face a constant flow of new technologies and information to learn, and they are given the time to do this, to benefit patient care.


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