Upstream Health Law
Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics 42; 4: 535-549 (2014)
Posted: 17 Mar 2015 Last revised: 18 Jun 2015
Date Written: December 1, 2014
For the first time, entrepreneurs are aggressively developing new medical technologies and care models accessible to consumers outside of established professional channels. As this sector of the health care industry expands, it is likely to require new forms of legal governance, which we term "upstream health law." Whether or not there is a field with that name 10 years from now, the connections between conventional medical care and population health will have become both broader and deeper. Many of these connections will have been formed by private entrepreneurship and commercial activity, not government investment. Public health authority will remain important, especially with respect to social determinants of health. So too will traditional laws governing physicians, hospitals, insurers, and suppliers, particularly for life-saving therapies. But a substantial part of health law will change as health care migrates upstream, where people are still people and not yet “patients,” where aging may be graceful and death dignified, where individuals are part of communities and social networks, where health is only one aspect of well-being, and where we expect what we buy to be inexpensive, convenient, and reliable.
Keywords: Health care, physicians, hospitals, innovation, regulation
JEL Classification: I11, I18
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation