Using our personal stories to bring systemic change to healthcare
April 6, 2022
By Jan Herzhoff, PhD
For World Health Day, the President of Elsevier Health shares his vision for the future of healthcare — and a lesson learned by his family.
Like many around the world, today I am taking time to reflect on the challenges that we as a global community have faced over the past two years. During the pandemic, we have lived through extraordinary times and seen significant changes brought to our everyday lives. On this World Health Day(opens in new tab/window), I am also reflecting on my family’s own experience with the healthcare system and what we can learn from it.
Over the years, my wife experienced a misdiagnosis of her cardiac condition; her symptoms were not taken seriously primarily because she is a woman. Family history was not considered, and repeated high blood pressure readings were deemed to be anxiety. We were very fortunate to find a doctor during the pandemic who could look beyond the bias, my wife received the right care in time.
This situation made me realize how vulnerable we all are when the health of a loved one is compromised. During these moments, we put so much trust in healthcare professionals, who are often overworked and under significant pressure themselves.
My wife’s experience is not unique. Millions of women across the globe have symptoms that are missed or not taken seriously. In the clinical setting, women and other marginalized groups are up to 30% more likely to be misdiagnosed(opens in new tab/window), and 50% of heart attacks in women are overlooked or misdiagnosed(opens in new tab/window), as they often display different symptoms.
The experience also opened my eyes in a new way to the myriad of challenges in our healthcare system. It fueled my passion to keep learning and do more to encourage positive change. I firmly believe that the right educational resources, evidence-based clinical information, and access to appropriate clinical tools each play a critical role in a patient’s diagnosis and treatment. In my wife’s case, better utilization of these could have avoided unnecessary stress and delays, and my wife could have received the right diagnosis and treatment sooner.
Understanding the Clinician of the Future
As an organization, Elsevier Health is driven by a passion to understand the trends that are driving the healthcare of tomorrow. We’re committed to supporting and championing doctors and nurses, listening to their experiences and helping to give a voice to their concerns.
Elsevier Health’s new Clinician of the Future report has identified some of the important challenges and opportunities that are anticipated in healthcare over the next 10 years. Furthermore, it has highlighted the skills, tools and resources doctors and nurses will require to deliver optimal patient support and future-proof healthcare.
Over the next decade, clinicians surveyed expect technology literacy will become their most valuable capability, and 56% predict they will base most of their clinical decisions on information from tools that utilize artificial intelligence. But as we move into a digital-first healthcare system, clinicians are calling for better education to stay up to date with the introduction of these new technologies, with 83% of clinicians globally believing that more frequent training is required.
We also expect to see a greater focus on the patient-provider relationship, with 66% of clinicians surveyed globally stating they believe their patients will be more empowered to take care of their own health in the near future. Clinicians also predict a blended approach to healthcare, with 63% saying most consultations between clinicians and patients will be remote. However, more than half of clinicians also believe telehealth will challenge their ability to demonstrate empathy with patients they no longer see in person. As a result, we will need to provide guidance and support to clinicians on how to transfer soft skills, like empathy, to the computer screen.
How can we help shape the future of health?
In my role as global President of Elsevier Health, I have thought about what those drivers for change need to be as we move to a patient-centered, digital approach to wellbeing. As an organization, I believe we need to focus on how we can use our unique position to leverage our knowledge, data and technology to help clinicians, leaders, educators and students make better decisions and improve outcomes for the future. Specifically, we have identified five key pillars(opens in new tab/window) that will help us to shape this future.
At Elsevier Health, we are already delivering solutions today that are aligned with this goal. We are educating and training nursing students to help them develop clinical reasoning skills and improve communications with patients as part of our Shadow Health(opens in new tab/window) platform. We are helping medical students throughout their medical education journey building an inclusive perspective from the start with Complete Anatomy. We help prepare more future health professionals faster for practice with Osmosis and Transition to Practice. We deliver insights that improve outcomes with advanced clinical decision support tools like ClinicalPath, and we are increasingly personalizing and localizing care with our ClinicalKey suite while taking on the infodemic.
I am honored to work at an organization whose mission is to advance medical knowledge to deliver better patient outcomes. Like me, there are many individuals within Elsevier Health who are inspired to deliver on this because they have personal stories, too. I look forward to the future and the ways we will all make an impact together.