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How to be a good healthcare futurist

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“The Crystal Ball,’‘ by John William Waterhouse.

Joe Flowers gives some advice on how to be a better healthcare futurist and how to deal with change in this rapidly changing sector.

Here is some of his advice:

“Build capacity in advance of need as often as possible. For instance, if you imagine going into the on-site clinic business, start one now as a pilot to build your capacity. Organizational capacity — the workforce, expertise and experience that will be needed — is the hardest to build. Second hardest is finding the necessary capital, partners and affiliates to back the plan. Physical plant, the sheetrock and shelves and machines, is much more malleable.”

“Seek out need. Don’t just run scenarios on the businesses you are currently in. As part of your forecasting, seek out specific needs and construct scenarios in which you could provide a solution for which someone might pay you, even if it’s not someone you are used to thinking of as a payer. Think: ‘OK, here’s a need to which we could provide a solution. For whom else is this a problem? The state? The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services? Area employers? Possible distant clients in a medical tourism model? Could we provide a better and cheaper solution to their problem?”’

“Build generalized reserve capacity, organizational capacity, financial reserves and bonding capacity, as well as general networking and affiliation strengths, as much as possible. Much of the recent consolidation in the healthcare field is driven by this need to simply be bigger in order to have reserve capacity to deal with unanticipated change. For smaller and rural organizations, this is the compelling argument for affiliation, if not outright sale to some larger organization or network: As things shift, sometimes radically, sometimes more quickly than imagined, smaller organizations that have been operating close to the line often do not have the reserve capacity they need to survive. Such affiliation need not be outright sale, but it has to have an interdependent form that puts others at some risk for your survival.”


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