How to Create a Clear Vision For the Future of Healthcare


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This article was exclusively written for The European Sting by Mr. Dimitris Diakidis Smith, a Greek-American Stage 3 undergraduate medical student studying at University College Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. He is affiliated to the International Federation of Medical Students Associations (IFMSA), cordial partner of The Sting. The opinions expressed in this piece belong strictly to the writer and do not necessarily reflect IFMSA’s view on the topic, nor The European Sting’s one.

Recent medical degree graduates all across the world are emerging into a dysfunctional healthcare landscape in dire need of change; skyrocketing healthcare costs and insurance premiums, aging infrastructure, and increasing bureaucracy are fueling a discussion about the future of an industry that in most countries creates one of the largest job sectors. This is leading to dissatisfaction amongst the medical community, with surveys pointing to a disturbing decrease in job satisfaction, primarily among doctors.

Technology companies, pharmacies, and even banks are sensing an opportunity to get in on this dissatisfaction by attempting to create their own healthcare plans, such as the joint venture between Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway, which aims to lower costs for their respective employees.

What is unclear in all of this change, however, is how it will affect the young health workforce. Will countries finally get their act together and standardize electronic health records to minimize the amount of time professionals spend on tedious forms outside of patient consultations? Will hospitals increase their workforce to decrease the number of people continuously working 16 or 24 hour shifts? Will these companies’ new healthcare programmes adequately compensate healthcare professionals?

Politicians, with their omnipresent desires for reelection, are often not bold enough to have a long-term vision. They cannot, and should not, be allowed to make decisions that affect the health of every citizen without prior input from experts in the field. We as a community first need to figure out what we think our ideal vision of the healthcare landscape looks like, by actively engaging members to voice their opinions through surveys and panels. These visions should be classified using a series of metrics, including projected needs based on region, mortality rates, and population health, making financial viability a valid but distant consideration. Once that has been achieved, medical associations will have to step up to have a voice in the cacophony, advocating for the vision preferred by what even the most uninvolved individual would consider the most qualified group of people for the job.

Young healthcare professionals have a responsibility to not be complacent, to recognize problems and to use their fresh viewpoint to come up with solutions so that when they are in charge, those solutions can be implemented. It is often all too easy to get comfortable in the system you have been trained in, to move up the ranks, while slowly forgetting the issues that need to be fixed.

Whether the healthcare sector of the future is an evolution of the current system or a complete revolutionary change, hopefully the healthcare sector of the future is one full of new gene therapies, low costs, and worker satisfaction; but to get there, we all need to remain vigilant and proactive.

About the author

Dimitris Diakidis Smith is a Greek-American Stage 3 undergraduate medical student studying at University College Dublin, in the Republic of Ireland. He has had exposure to both North American and European medical systems, which includes having worked as a research assistant at the Chief of Neurosurgery’s lab at the Yale School of Medicine, in addition to his continuous experience with Irish medical education.

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