The Worst Healthcare Predictions of the Past 20 Years

Stephanie Cajigal


October 20, 2015

In the past 20 years that Medscape's been around, the world of medicine has seen some pretty amazing advances. It's also been the source of a few bad predictions. In honor of our anniversary, we asked leaders from various specialties to tell us what the experts got terribly wrong over the past two decades.

"In 2003, following a global pandemic, SARS-coronavirus was predicted to become a yearly epidemic and researchers rushed to make a vaccine. But the yearly outbreaks never happened. Although it's hard to know exactly why, SARS-coronavirus remains silent."  
—Paul A. Offit, MD, Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

"One 'expert' after another has predicted a 'cure for cancer' since 1971. Despite huge expenditures and great increases in knowledge about cancer, and serious successes in a few categories, we are nowhere near a total cure nor a total prevention for those thousands of diseases lumped under the name 'cancer.'"
—George D. Lundberg, MD, Editor at Large, Medscape; Consulting Professor, Pathology, Health Research Policy, Stanford University, Stanford, California

"The single worst prediction was: There would be a 'cure' for all cancer in our lifetime."
—Maurie Markman, MD, President, CTCA Medicine & Science, Cancer Treatment Centers of America, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

"Capitation as the major form of reimbursement. It fizzled because physicians didn't like it and didn't understand how to make it work. Now we are back to fee for service, while trying to figure out how to reimburse through accountable care organizations."
—Carolyn Buppert, MSN, JD, Healthcare attorney, Boulder, Colorado

"Policy-makers, including but not limited to President Obama, predicted that we could use the savings from digitizing medical records to pay for extending insurance coverage. It's the worst prediction because what resulted—the current-day electronic health record (EHR)—is an unmitigated disaster. EHRs not only remove the humanity from the patient/doctor interaction, they distract caregivers from what is most important. Distraction, in my mind, is our number one patient safety issue. EHRs make it worse."
—John Mandrola, MD, Clinical Electrophysiologist, Baptist Medical Associates, Louisville, Kentucky

"After the failure of yet another healthcare reform plan (in 1994), common knowledge was that there would never be meaningful healthcare reform in our lifetimes, if ever, in this country."
—Neil A. Busis, MD, Director, Community Neurology; Clinical Professor of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

What do you believe was the worst healthcare prediction of the past 20 years? Tell us in the comments section.


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