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A high school senior suggests where future healthcare leaders might come from

Carlisle Maney, a senior at Littleton High School in Littleton, Colo., asks in this STAT piece:

“Where will the next generation of healthcare leaders come from?

“Thirty years ago, if you had ambitions of playing an important role in this field, you went to medical school. Today, the best route to leadership is anyone’s guess.”

“Today, the path ahead is anything but clear for young people like me — I’m a high school senior — with a keen interest in healthcare. I see four huge forces affecting the healthcare sphere. It’s possible to make a good argument for any one of them as the most important path to leadership in this field:

“Genetic and precision medicine. The cost for testing an individual’s genome continues to drop rapidly, opening the door to medical approaches that are more effective and can start miles further down the road than traditional approaches.

“Technology and big data. The ability to track the health of a given individual or population has increased dramatically with more universal information technology and electronic medical records. The accrual of big data can let engineers seek out patterns and correlations in disease and treatment that will likely change the way we think about the economics and incentives of healthcare.

“Government policy and regulation. This fall showed the first signs that the Affordable Care Act may crumble. Insurance companies are pulling out of more markets while healthcare costs are soaring. And all bets are off if Donald Trump carries out his promise to dismantle Obamacare on day one of his presidency. Is the way forward more government involvement or less? Either way, government at all levels will play an immense role in the future of the biggest industry in America.

“Entrepreneurship and new business models. Just as companies like Amazon and Uber have completely restructured the retail and local transportation industries, it’s possible that Silicon Valley will rethink and reengineer the delivery of healthcare services. The venture-capital industry is focusing huge amounts of money on healthcare, increasing the probability that the way we receive medical treatment will change as much as, or even more than, the way we buy books.”

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