Health Care Without the Doctor: How New Devices and Technologies Aid Clinicians and Consumers

Mary Kate Scott

This report discusses the technologies, regulatory trends, and market forces that are reshaping the way health care is delivered, and what the shift means for stakeholders. It also presents key questions for further discussion and research.

May 2009

Recent decades have seen a remarkable change in the delivery of health care services. Nurse practitioners now have much greater prescribing authority, consumers can purchase more than 700 over-the-counter medications once available only by prescription, and numerous devices have become available that enable a nurse, technician, or consumer — rather than a physician or a laboratory — to diagnose or monitor a medical condition.

This report discusses the technologies, regulatory trends, and market forces that are reshaping the way health care is delivered, and what these trends means for stakeholders. It also presents key questions for further discussion and research.

The analysis finds that the shift in diagnostic, monitoring, and treatment technologies from physicians to mid-level clinicians and consumers could significantly increase the health care system's capacity, improve access to and the quality of care, and reduce costs. However, comprehensive research and health payment reform are necessary to foster and direct this market, and some additional government regulation may be necessary.

The complete report is available under Document Downloads.