26 May The Good News about the Future of Healthcare
This is the commencement address I gave after receiving my honorary doctorate degree from Western University of Health Science
I would like to thank this incredible institution, The Board of Trustees, Provost, Deans, and Faculty for the unbelievable honor to have received my honorary Doctorate Degree today.
It is also a great honor to have the opportunity to present today to this brilliant graduating class, their families and supporters.
Now that I’m a doctor I hope by my children will no longer use Google to fact check me!
25 years ago something amazing happened to me that changed my life forever. It happened, because of all things… a chili pepper. That may surprise you, so let me explain – Yesterday May 18th marks an a very important anniversary for me. My wife Michelle and I celebrated 25 Incredible years together. Over 25 years ago I was the recipient of one of life’s most amazing gifts, and that was the gift of great timing. To the north of us here in Pasadena in the beautiful San Gabriel Mountains is a small ski town called Wrightwood. I decided on a whim to attend their annual Chili-fest. After about an hour or so, by some strike of great luck, my now wife Michelle arrived at the Chili fest. I stalked her for a while, to the point that she looked like she might be getting ready to get a restraining order, but finally she succumbed to my ridiculous and pathetic attempts to meet her. One thing led to another, we got married, and we were blessed with four amazing children, and an incredible life together. I can give all of the credit, of this amazing union, to chili peppers and of course the super power of great timing.
Future of Healthcare
Great timing has also served me as a healthcare innovator. About 18 years ago, I was working on a punctum implant to treat ocular surface disease, also known as dry eye syndrome. The prevailing technologies of the day would actually pop out of EYE! You can only imagine being at a cocktail party and have your implant fly across the room and land in someone’s martini… not very socially acceptable. The problem with these implants was, that they were not flexible so they didn’t conform to the patient’s anatomy. And here’s were great timing came in. I was getting my car serviced, and I thinking about this problem. I happened to notice several radiator hoses at the service station hanging on the wall. At that moment, it occurred to me that the flexible accordion like design of the radiator hose, could be applied to the implants to allow them to conform and move with the anatomical structure of the eye. Within just 24 hours I redesigned the implant and still today the flexible punctum plug is one of the most popular forms for treating ocular surface disease. Was I lucky? I don’t think so, I was prepared to seize an opportunity and I did. And the good news is, you are also prepared to seize the incredible opportunities that lay before you, in the new era of healthcare.
The power of perfect timing is both the key to your present and to your future.
Think about how timing has played out in your own life. Think about the incredible influence of timing on your relationships, your experiences, your talents and your achievements. Think about the power of timing in the lives of some of the most game-changing athletes, leaders, inventors and thinkers in history. Michelangelo, Einstein and Steve Jobs. Think about the incredible opportunities before you, right now, in this moment…[Pause]…
According to decades of research, some the most successful individuals that ever lived can attribute much of their success to the power of the intersection between preparation and opportunity.
Having worked hard and studied at this great institution, having labored long hours and attained a level of mastery of your chosen discipline, you have done everything in your power to prepare for your future. Now the only ingredient you need is opportunity, and that’s where the future of healthcare comes in. Today I want to help you expand your vision of the opportunities that lay ahead for you, so that you can adequately anticipate them, instantly recognize them and rapidly seize them the very moment they arrive.
As an inventor, I’ve institutionalize the process of seizing opportunities. Or as the former CEO of Apple put it, “The future belongs to those who see possibilities before they become obvious.” …[Pause]…
My goal today is to help you see and seize the possibilities.
As a healthcare futurist, this is what I can tell you about your future and the future of healthcare:
First, the healthcare market will continue to massively expand through some very powerful future trends. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Healthcare occupations and industries are expected to have the fastest employment growth and to add the most jobs between 2014 and beyond.
Trends that are driving this unprecedented growth in jobs include, The Silver Tsunami. The silver tsunami suggests that by the year 2020 our aging population will grow to the point that we will have 72 million Americans over the age of 65 consuming copious amounts of healthcare. This is a good thing, it means we are doing our jobs, keeping people healthy and Improving lives. When you think about it, what career pathway could be more meaningful.
Another important trend is The Chronic Disease Epidemic, this epidemic continues to grow rapidly and will drive tremendous growth in healthcare as we leverage new technologies to help patients get to a healthier state.
Another very important future healthcare trend that will drive the massive expansion of healthcare is that of Access. The restructuring of our healthcare system will guarantee access to quality and affordable healthcare for everyone. Some suggest that as much as 50 million new patients could access the mainstream of healthcare. This new trend will bring new patients into healthcare programs that drive prevention, wellness and ultimately better disease management for everyone no matter their financial wherewithal.
Perhaps the most exciting trends is that of, Enabling Technologies. Wearable and implantable technologies are quickly moving towards rapid deployment. The new range of wearable technologies will allow doctors, and other healthcare providers to actually anticipate potentially serious conditions before they become either expenses or even lethal. As I tell my four children, the connected web and technology has many more uses than just Snap Chat and Cat Videos. We will also leverage game mechanics and social engagement to significantly improve the way in which we manage chronic disease. Wearable technologies will ultimately connect to the food you eat, the lifestyle you live and the medications you take. Once connected these incredible technologies will help you achieve optimal health, while managing a wide range of diseases. We will see a massive reduction in traditional clinical visits in favor of enabling technology that allows patients to access care within minutes from their connected devices. Future smart phones will come standard with a wide range of bio enabled sensors that will make digital doctor visits commonplace. Nearly 20 years ago I invented one of the first wearable technologies, little did I know at that time that we would have the infrastructure of digital ubiquity, that is now available to drive insanely cool technologies. In addition to improving the quality of clinical care we will significantly improve the quality of the human experience. In other words, healthcare is quickly becoming consumerized. The patient’s experience will be more like a trip to Norstroms and less like a trip to the Department of Motor Vehicles. The old proclamation that “the doctor will see you now” has given way to a new proclamation “the patient will see you now”. The future of healthcare is about disruptive innovation, digital disruption and an empowered patient. All of these trends will drive unprecedented levels of economic opportunity.
25 years ago I was the fortunate recipient of great luck! And as I mentioned earlier, one of the best definitions of luck, is when preparation meets opportunity. You have worked hard, you have made a major financial commitment, you have studied, you have done the heavy lifting of preparation. I stand here before you today with news from the future, and that news is, your preparation is about to meet unprecedented opportunity. Congratulations, your future, your amazing future awaits you with open arms!