Moving to mobility will be far more profound than having employees work far from the main organizational location.
To really consider the potential impact of workforce mobility open your mind to possibilities you might not have considered. Right now drone planes are flown by pilots who are hundreds of miles away . Google is experimenting with cars that drive themselves . Imagine a few years from now when truck drivers will struggle their rigs into first gear from a place hundreds of miles away. Ever hear of mechatronics ? It’s engineering disciplines working together to create technology that makes it possible for even tractors to get themselves around without someone aboard. So in the future we should be able to plow, fly, or move semis around the world while the farmer, pilot, or truck driver sits safely at home. Extend your imagination to every field. Car repair. Personal massages. Police officers giving out tickets via holograms from the safety of the police station. A few years from now will anyone need to leave home?
Of course they will, but entire industries will be restructured by where the actual work can be done. Healthcare is an obvious one. I’m going to use my imagination here for a couple of minutes to consider what could happen. Place yourself in your office. While you’re working, your arrhythmia is being monitored and the results are being continuously sent to your health care provider which automatically captures them on your electronic medical record. If anything starts to go crazy a signal is automatically sent to your nurse who lets you know what to do right away. At the same time, your diabetes is being checked continuously and if your blood sugar drops too much your smart phone calls you up and tells you what’s happening. These results are continuously sent to your electronic medical record as well.
Before you eat dinner you double check all your vital signs for the day - your weight, blood pressure, and anything else that the doctor wants you to track. You enter everything you’ve eaten into a handy app on your phone. Things are looking good, so you pull out a nice bottle of wine and a tasty snack while you get ready for dinner. Later you head for bed. You snore, which is bothersome, but fortunately you have a device (simple, with no annoying cords) that gives you a little electronic zap every time your snoring gets out of control, at which time you move to another position until the annoyance stops. Again, continuous reports are sent electronically to your health provider and are captured on your electronic medical record, securely available to any of your medical providers anywhere in the world at any time they need to refer to it. Both you and your spouse sleep more soundly.
The next morning you have your annual doctor’s examination scheduled, but you don’t have to worry about drive time because it’s going to take place at your home. Around 10:00 that morning you head into your living room, where your telepresence system is set up.
You’ve gotten to know your doctor face-to-face and so you feel pretty comfortable meeting him as a hologram now. A good deal of the pre-work has been done because all the key reports have been sent electronically throughout the year and summarized automatically for this session. Your doctor goes through the regular list of questions. He checks your mpegs, which a friendly technician recorded when you stopped by the healthcare station at the local mall a couple weeks before. All looks OK except for a nasty looking mole that needs to be removed, so your doctor sets up a time for you to drop by the robotics laboratory where he’ll take care of it. You ask him how the weather is in Alabama. He says fine and asks how the skiing is in Boise.
As your doctor enters your new prescription into your electronic medical record it is automatically sent to your online pharmacy and your order is mailed to you at home. If you want to check out the examination or the examination results you can pull up a video of it from your home computer, tablet, or smart phone. You breathe a sigh of relief, another healthy year, but that wasn’t much of a surprise because you’ve been getting reports regularly along the way. You remember feeling better when they started constantly monitoring the health of your pregnant wife, especially after that scare last time. A couple of weeks later your nurse gives you a call (from her home) saying she’s reviewing the recording of your examination and did you have any follow up questions?
The first transatlantic surgery occurred on September 7, 2001. It was gall bladder surgery, the patient was in France and the surgeon was in New York. Since then telemedicine has not looked back and there are great resources to try to track this burgeoning field. Mobihealthnews is one, and is a terrific site to follow if you are trying to stay up with how mobility is changing the health industry. We interviewed Brian Dolan, cofounder and editor, for our new book and he told us “Every day we’re taking the pulse of convergence [between the wireless industry and healthcare].”
Listen to our recent interview with Dale Alverson, President of the American Telemedicine Association here: Alverson Interview
In my imaginary scenario your doctor will be diagnosing and treating you from across the country or the world. Your nurse will following up from home (or the beach). Your technicians might be taking pictures of you from the mall. You will rarely have to go into a doctor’s office or hospital for medical care.
Now that’s just one possible scenario and you can imagine others, but healthcare, I predict, will look far different a few years from now because of where work can actually be accomplished. And that’s just one industry. Imagine how mobility could change financial services, transportation, agriculture, engineering, construction, and you name it. What will be the impact of those changes on training and development? Time to use your imagination, eh?