One of the signs that the blue model is fading away is that individuals are increasingly taking responsibility for their own employment and livelihood, at the expense of the large bureaucracies that currently dominate the marketplace. The same process is underway in health care, albeit at a slower pace.One new development, however, may speed things up: 3d printers with the ability to create their own prescription drugs. Tecca reports that researchers at the University of Glasgow have modified a commercially available 3d printer to use pharmaceutical chemicals, allowing them to manufacture drugs that could rival those of major brands. At $2,000 a piece (plus the cost of materials and modification), these printers are not far out of the reach of the average consumer and will become even more affordable as the technology spreads and prices come down.
The innovation could expand access to expensive cancer drugs, allowing pharmacies to fill prescriptions for patients on demand or even allowing patients to print their own medicine from home. According to Cronin, “we could use 3D printers to revolutionize access to health care in the developing world, allowing diagnosis and treatment to happen in a much more efficient and economical way than is possible now.”
This particular project may or may not pan out, but something like it will. The trendlines are pointing in the direction of individuals bypassing traditional systems to take control of their own health care. This will happen even faster if we have a health care system that makes cost a factor for consumers.