The inevitable requirement for change in health care

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Well, it’s the beginning of another year and 2019 certainly has the potential for some significant changes in health care. Things like the upcoming provincial election, the roll out of Connect Care within Alberta Health Services and the advancements of health technology, such as augmented and artificial intelligence (AI), will all impact how Albertans receive health care in the coming months and years. Some of these changes may be scary and some may be exciting opportunities—only time will tell.

I’m a bit of an optimist, therefore I believe the changes we see in front of us can have a significant and positive impact on the care people provide and receive. However, the key to this will be how well we can adapt to change. There is a very famous quote from Charles Darwin that states “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” I suspect Mr. Darwin’s words will prove to be very true in 2019.

I graduated from medical school in 1993 and in the past 26 years, I have seen health care change significantly. But in my opinion, as more advanced technologies are adapted into health care, the next five years may be the most dramatic change we have seen in a century. These technologies will allow for regular assessment of a physician’s clinical competencies and the public will have much more access to data about clinical outcomes, which will give them more choices in their care. I suspect we will see an increasing level of performance expected from physicians.

But clinicians are not the only ones who need to embrace the changes ahead. We as health care regulators will continuously be held to a higher standard. We too will have our competencies monitored and challenged by the public, the government and the profession. We must therefore also adapt and evolve as we move forward. That means looking for better ways to assess physician competence and understanding the evolving role we play in the regulation of AI in health care. We must also improve how we manage physician complaints in a way that is not only punitive, but creates learning opportunities for everyone.

Now, I recognize that this may seem like a scary thing for many, but if we embrace this reality as an opportunity to continuously improve how we do our jobs, it could also be very satisfying and all Albertans can receive better and better health care. If physicians don’t embrace the realities of change that’s in front of us, some will become extinct. Let’s take 2019 as a year to learn more about the opportunities that lay in front of us and plan how we can embrace those changes to become better at what we do.

Looking forward to your comments,

Scott

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