The autonomy of doctors may diminish over the next decade as rising healthcare costs and technological advances encourage patients to take a more active role in managing their own healthcare, according to new research.
A report published last month by Health Horizons, a division of the California-based think tank, The Institute for the Future (IFTF), predicts a shift towards performance-based payments for doctors and a change in the patient-doctor relationship as individuals become empowered to diagnose and treat themselves.
"Payments will be grouped together and linked to patient outcomes to encourage better co-ordination and communication, resulting in improved quality of care," according to the latest IFTF signals and forecasts map, which sets out predictions for trends in healthcare over the next decade.
The report predicts that "quality contracts" and "medical pacts" between doctors and patients will become commonplace as patients seek better returns on their spending in an era of health reform.
Patients will have better access to and understanding of health-related data and electronic health records, which will become "filtered and integrated in meaningful ways" through "social networks for patient data aggregation", according to the report.
This will lead to an increase in "participatory medicine" where "self-organised collectives of patients, consumers, and citizens drive delivery-of-care systems".
A rise in peer-to-peer disease management, shared medical appointments and even selforganised clinical trials will result from this knowledge shift, the report predicts.