Newt Gingrich Discusses the Presumption of Change in Healthcare

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During his closing keynote at the World Health Care Congress, former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich echoed the sessions of the previous 3 days by discussing current and future change in healthcare.

Mirroring the previous keynotes and sessions of the 3-day World Health Care Congress in Washington, DC, Newt Gingrich’s closing keynote speech on March 25 discussed current and future change in healthcare.

When Mr Gingrich stepped down as Speaker of the House in 1999, he spent half of his time focusing on national security and the other half on healthcare. And what he determined was that despite issues like nuclear weapons, ISIS, and cyberattacks, health and healthcare are still 10 times more complicated than national security.

A large part of the challenge is the balance between the pioneers of the future, who are looking to make changes through innovation, and the prison guards of the past, who prefer status quo.

“The potential for change in health is dramatically larger than the probability of change because of all these various resistant groups: hospitals, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, the federal government, the state government—just go down the list—the insurance companies,” he said.


While he did call Obamacare “a huge complicated mess,” Mr Gingrich explained that it is preferable to if the president had created a single payer system. He said the country can function in a huge complicated mess and eventually better, more sophisticated, faster, and cheaper things can evolve out of the situation. However, a single payer system would have made change much more difficult.

Among the improvements to healthcare that are currently evolving includes the impact of smartphones. He cited Citizenville, by California Lieutenant Governor Gary Newsom, and The Patient Will See You Now, by Eric Topol, MD, which both explore the uses of smartphones in healthcare.

“I can now put in your smartphone so many apps that enable you to manage your own health and in the process to send information to the appropriate health systems so that we’re right on the edge of inventing continuous health information,” Mr Gingrich said.

This is not to be confused with telemedicine. Instead, continuous health information would provide a stream of 24/7 information that is mediated by expert systems. If the patient stays within the appropriate boundaries neither the patient nor the doctor needs to pay any attention. But if something strays outside of those boundaries, there is immediate real-time feedback.

The future of healthcare will also hold a dramatic differentiation between levels of healthcare delivery, he said. Like speakers before him, Mr Gingrich explained that healthcare will start to become more like other industries, such as hotel and auto industry. Just as the market allows high-priced hotels and cheap hostels all available in one city, healthcare will begin to see dramatic variety.

Patients will have the opportunity to pay more for concierge medicine, which includes a close relationship between the patient and physician, or pay a lot less by using options like Minute Clinic’s, which is more impersonal and has no continuity of care.

During his keynote, Mr Gingrich also touched upon increasing transparency, gathering patient data as early as possible, and greater accountability, all of which are changes he sees right on the horizon. In addition, there are a multitude of changes that likely no one can predict, he admitted.

“Anybody who walks into your office and tells you they can design the next 10 years, you need to just throw them out,” he said. “Nobody understands the scale of change that is coming.”