The Phoenix Business Journal hosted its second annual Health Care of the Future roundtable discussion Wednesday to address some of the changes and innovations that continue to reshape Arizona’s medical industry.
The event, hosted at the Sheraton Phoenix Downtown Hotel, featured a panel discussion with some of Arizona’s most-respected health care experts. Panel members included: Dr. James Burrell, chief medical officer of Cigna Medical Group; Dr. Michael Mobley, co-founder of eHealthNexus; Dr. Robert Penny, co-founder and CEO of International Genomics Consortium; Dr. Howard Silverman, associate dean of the University of Arizona College of Medicine-Phoenix; Dr. John Shufeldt, ER physician and MeMD CEO; and Bill Vanaskie, executive vice president of Maricopa Integrated Health System.
The overriding theme of this year’s discussion: The health care industry is rapidly changing as a result of innovation and government reform, making it difficult to define where exactly the future of Arizona’s health care industry lies. One of the biggest challenges, according to Burrell, is that baby-boomer physicians are beginning to retire. Some 40 percent of practicing doctors are 55 years of age or older and there are “no where near enough physicians coming in to fill the gap,” he said.
Burrel also said that because 90 percent of Arizona’s practicing physicians went to medical school out of state, recruiting good clinicians is all the more challenging and will need to continue to be a high priority as the industry moves forward. UA College of Medicine’s Silverman answered Burrell’s concerns: “Help is on the way,” noting UA recently upped its class size from 48 students to 80. “They’re like a new car smell,” Silverman said of UA’s medical students. “Fresh, young and motivated.”
Also a hot topic during the morning panel discussion was personalized medicine, electronic health records, and the exchange of data and information between physicians across the country. “We are building the blueprints of 10,000 cancers—10,000 patients,” said ICG’s Penny. “By knowing personalized medical data, we will advance.”
All of the participants spoke about future innovations in personalized health records—mobile health tracking and a uniform Internet database for all patient records—but said there still are many privacy concerns that make such changes a daunting challenge. “We are on the cusp of that explosion, but it can’t come fast enough,” Penny said.
Other issues addressed included: the need for collaboration of on-demand health care with virtual health care, the rising cost of care, the increase of chronic diseases related to lifestyle choices and the importance of redirecting the role of medical care to be more efficient and cost effective.