An Expert's View on the Future of Healthcare

Dr David Blumenthal, president of The Commonwealth Fund, provides a glimpse into his prediction of healthcare in 2030.

DAVID BLUMENTHAL: It’s 2030. Scenarios like the following are routine.

1. Your mobile device chimes with an audible message. Sensors in your 85-year-old father’s apartment show that he hasn’t opened the fridge today and hasn’t taken his medicines. He’s breathing more rapidly and urinating less than normal. He has a fever and a cough, his blood sugar is high and blood oxygen low. Based on this data and his cloud-based health record, a computerized algorithm says there is a greater than 90% chance that he has bronchitis or pneumonia that is aggravating his diabetes and causing dehydration. If you approve, the software will call an ambulance, alert the emergency room, share this information with his primary-care physician, diabetologist and visiting nurse, and arrange for Uber to take you to the emergency room.

2. Your team won your weekly softball game last night, but that slide into second was a little rough. This morning, your ankle is sore and swollen. You log into your health system’s electronic patient portal and type in “swollen ankle.” It asks you a couple of questions and recommends an X-ray, while offering you the chance for a video consult with an ER physician. It also culls the list of orthopedists to whom your primary-care physician refers, and finds one who has an opening this morning, takes your insurance, and is recommended on MDQ, the local quality-ranking service. The portal also tells you that you have $2000 left on your deductible for this year, and that the expected cost of treating your ankle is $500-$5000, depending on whether it’s sprained or broken. There’s a less-expensive orthopedist on the list ($200-$1500) but she doesn’t have an opening until the day after tomorrow. You choose the more expensive option and limp off to your appointment.

Read Dr Blumenthal's complete opinion piece on the future of healthcare at The Wall Street Journal: