From Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson School of Medicine:

Facing the Healthcare Landscape of the Future

Dean Mark Schuster, MD discusses preparing doctors of tomorrow for technological shifts, inequities, and other challenges

December 09, 2021

Physicians of the future will need to navigate a fast-evolving healthcare world. Technology is altering the way medicine is practiced, the ways in which physicians and patients interact, and the ways in which people manage their health. Data is changing how doctors understand population health. An emphasis on disease prevention through improvements to environmental and lifestyle factors continues to increase.

KPSOM Founding Dean and CEO Mark Schuster, MD, discussed these challenges with Navina Evans, MBBS, Chief Executive of the Health Education England (a division of the UK’s National Health Service, responsible for training the national healthcare workforce), during a December 9 virtual conference, titled “Clinicians in 2030,” hosted by the peer-reviewed journal NEJM Catalyst Innovations in Care Delivery. What follows are five important areas that Schuster and Evans stressed for preparing tomorrow’s doctors to adapt to the fast-evolving healthcare landscape.

Patient-centered care: “We want physicians who understand patient-centered care, meaning they respect the patient, treat them as a decision-maker. They share all reasonable options for treatment, and support their decision-making process even when the patient doesn’t make the decision that they—the doctor—would make if they were the patient.”

– Schuster

Health disparities: “Whether you’re a surgeon or a pediatrician or or a generalist or a psychiatrist, whatever it is, if you’re not interested in health inequality, then you’re not interested in health … Healthcare professionals don’t just go and do their clinical job. They're part of leadership; they’re part of leading communities.”

– Evans

Environmental and social determinants of health: “We want physicians who recognize that we have great influence over health, of course, but … what goes on in the home, the school, the workplace, and the neighborhood can have more influence on a patient’s health than what happens in the clinic. They need to understand what’s going on in their patient’s life and how they can help the patient navigate the challenges and support their health.”

– Schuster

Uncertainty: “They also need to know how to deal with and communicate uncertainty. There may be a 68 percent chance that a patient has a certain type of cancer, but how can the doctor help the patient translate that into a risk assessment that allows them, the patient, to make decisions? Doctors need to know how to talk about probabilities with patients in terms that they can understand, and also to help them think in terms of trade-offs.”

– Schuster

Artificial intelligence and machine learning: “Doctors should be prepared for the expansion of artificial intelligence, wearables, precision medicine, virtual care … and changes we … can’t even envision yet. They need to be facile with what’s coming and adapt. They should embrace innovation rather than fearing and avoiding it.”

– Schuster

Read more about the NEJM Catalyst “Clinicians in 2030” virtual event here .