The Doctor of the Future

The Doctor of the Future

Seeing around corners is always hard. However, to go to where the puck will be is a useful step when planning strategy and tactics to meet the needs of customers segments.

If you have a product or service and are planning not just for the now, but the next and new, then painting a picture of your customer archetype or personna is a key tool. Do you know who your dream customer is?

There are 3 steps for understanding your dream customer:

  1. Consider the big issues they are facing – look wider and investigate global issues, such as hunger, environmental sustainability or education.
  2. Identify the industry trends that are affecting them – technology, big data, cyber security, etc.
  3. Describe your customer avatar/archetype/persona now – make a collage including their goals and values, demographics, their pain points and challenges.

Now work out how you can help them:

  1. What key innovation opportunities can you offer – what innovation projects will make a real difference, that are market focused, innovative, exciting and inspiring.
  2. Select customers who like, know, trust and can afford you.
  3. Redefine your purpose so you can serve your dream customer.

While there are some commonalities in most all doctors, each specialty attracts a certain kind of person and personality. Primary care docs are different from CT surgeons. In fact, the personality of the specialty is one of the determinants of residency and a career selection by medical students. In addition, each doctor plays multiple clinical, teaching, research/development/commericialization,, commmunity service and administrative/leadership roles with multiple affiliations.

So, if you want to get into the skin of a doctor, you will have to spend some time taking a deeper dive into what makes a particular doctor tick. Design thinking is a way to do that.

Doctors will continue to want you to create them a QWILT SET. But, how, when and by whom will be different moving forward.

So, how will the doctor of the future be different from the doctors of today?

  1. They will be chosen differently
  2. They will be educated and trained differently
  3. They will be measured more intensely than they are now particularly for competencies
  4. They will be employed by different employers. A hospital or health system employed about 25% of U.S. physicians in 2012. That percentage nearly doubled to 44% in 2018.
  5. They will be paid differently
  6. They will be more data driven
  7. They will be disintermediated for some jobs and substituted for some by others
  8. They will work in different sick care and health care ecosystems
  9. They will evolve from being knowledge technicians to strategic thinkers
  10. More will have an entrepreneurial mindset
  11. They will demand more personalized solutions for lifelong learning, clinical decision support and dissemination and implementation of new technologies
  12. In some instances, they will become commoditized and therefore challenged to differentiate themselves
  13. They will require the knowledge, skills, abilities and competencies to win the 4th industrial revolution and they will use new adult learning technologies to learn and practice them
  14. They will work in interprofessional teams, not as individuals, taking care of patients and their care community
  15. They will work under the coordination of a global cybernervous system
  16. Primary care will be unbundled
  17. They will work as part of the gig economy
  18. They will be more data literate
  19. They will have shorter clinical careers
  20. They will be working more in non-clinical careers
  21. The physician workforce will include more women who will have different practice patterns and productivity
  22. Physicians over 65 will delay retirement
  23. The physician experience will eclipse the focus on the patient experience
  24. The innovaging economy will take center stage and leave a gap in geriatrics
  25. Community health workers will be more important stakeholders as part of the patient team as social determinants overwhelm clinicians
  26. Medical societies and medical meetings will become less relevant and virtualized
  27. They will work in jobs that have not yet been created.
  28. The pace of change and the innovation imperative will cause more doctors to shift to the left of the technology adoption curve.
  29. Most doctors will continue to "buy" emotionally and justify rationally.
  30. Doctors will struggle to learn and unlearn the hidden curriculum.
  31. They will be more risk averse, less entrepreneurial and burdened with debt
  32. The changing role of the academic physician as AMCs change their business models.
  33. How would Medicare for All change the physician workforce?
  34.  Their expertise will be questioned
  35.  They will want you to educate and engage them differently.

What is the role of the doctor as DIY medicine advances? Will sick care go the way of self driving cars? Will technology really replace 80% of what doctors do or just scale them?What doctor shortage are you talking about?

Half of all current jobs could be wiped out within 20 years.

Prognosticating is always dangerous, particularly when you are trying to predict the future. But, all things considered, it's better than moving forward while always looking in the rear view mirror.

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is the President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs on Twitter@ArlenMD.

Share this article

Leave your comments

Post comment as a guest

terms and condition.
  • Chloe Mcintyre

    The future doctors will never become outdated

  • Karl Thompson

    2019 and still no cure for cancer, baldness, eczema and myopia.

  • Neil Larson

    More lives will be saved

  • Ryan Brennick

    Though provoking read

  • Chris Leech

    Hmm Let's see what's going to happen in 15 years

Share this article

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA

Former Contributor

Arlen Meyers, MD, MBA is a professor emeritus of otolaryngology, dentistry, and engineering at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the Colorado School of Public Health and President and CEO of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs at He has created several medical device and digital health companies. His primary research centers around biomedical and health innovation and entrepreneurship and life science technology commercialization. He consults for and speaks to companies, governments, colleges and universities around the world who need his expertise and contacts in the areas of bio entrepreneurship, bioscience, healthcare, healthcare IT, medical tourism -- nationally and internationally, new product development, product design, and financing new ventures. He is a former Harvard-Macy fellow and In 2010, he completed a Fulbright at Kings Business, the commercialization office of technology transfer at Kings College in London. He recently published "Building the Case for Biotechnology." "Optical Detection of Cancer", and " The Life Science Innovation Roadmap". He is also an associate editor of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology and Technology Transfer and Entrepreneurship and Editor-in-Chief of Medscape. In addition, He is a faculty member at the University of Colorado Denver Graduate School where he teaches Biomedical Entrepreneurship and is an iCorps participant, trainer and industry mentor. He is the Chief Medical Officer at and and Chairman of the Board at GlobalMindED at, a non-profit at risk student success network. He is honored to be named by Modern Healthcare as one of the 50 Most Influential Physician Executives of 2011 and nominated in 2012 and Best Doctors 2013.

Cookies user prefences
We use cookies to ensure you to get the best experience on our website. If you decline the use of cookies, this website may not function as expected.
Accept all
Decline all
Read more
Tools used to analyze the data to measure the effectiveness of a website and to understand how it works.
Google Analytics