11 Expert Perspectives on the Future of Medical Specialties

A group of investigators, researchers and policymakers discuss the issues, innovations and aspirations that may define 2023 advances.

Through the HCPLive Network’s 2022 This Year in Medicine Series, about 2 dozen feature articles, reviews and interviews recapped what’s been a whirlwind year in medical and public health advances, viral outbreaks and debates in care.

Though every piece differed in topic and opinion, each contained a similar valuable trait: forward-thinking perspective from thought-leading physicians, researchers and policymakers.

On the eve of 2023, here’s a look back at what some experts had to say on the future of 11 specialties.

Cardiology

“We need to bring the patient voice to everything that we do, including our research, asking them with the disease states they’re living with what is most important to them. That’s where we should be focusing some of our research. Certainly, we know what questions we want to ask, but there’s probably questions that our patients bring to our attention that perhaps we haven’t thought about.”

Martha Gulati, MD, Director of Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center

Dermatology

“So, I think 4 treatments in a year for a very systemic disease is a pretty big deal. And I think in general medicine, we're becoming more interested in genotype-phenotype correlation. So that means genetically testing people to find out what their disease is and what mutations it harbors, to treat them more targetedly.”

Karan Lal, DO, Director of Pediatric Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery for Affiliated Dermatology Scottsdale

Diabetology

“The idea of disease prevention and disease modifying therapy is really exciting. You can imagine it might really change the way we treat people with type 1 diabetes and those at high risk for developing the disease. This is just the beginning.”

Emily Sims, MD, teplizumab investigator, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases and the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at IU School of Medicine

Gastroenterology

“There's areas in the US where there is a (colon cancer screening) backlog, and particularly healthcare systems in smaller rural areas, smaller towns, and they are unable to increase the capacity. And they're still trying to catch up on the backlog and the more urgent things that have been brewing over the last few years.”

Mark B. Pochapin, MD, Director of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at NYU Langone Health

General Medicine

“I believe that misinformation is now the leading cause of death in the US. For the pandemic alone, since the availability of effective vaccines and antivirals, death should be an uncommon outcome, but unfortunately many people have failed to be up-to-date on vaccination or have not received antivirals despite their high risk status. But this is not limited to the pandemic—all too often nefarious or misled information has been promulgated, leading to bad health decisions, particularly in some segments of our population. I hope by this time next year we’ll have an effective strategy to combat misinformation.”

Robert Califf, MD, FDA Commissioner

Infectious Disease

“It's not something you can implement overnight, but we are seeing absolute payoff with our DCLS graduates that are aligning with healthcare systems and hospitals, not only in life and quality of patient care, but in actual dollars saved. If you don't order all of these tests, especially some of these expensive molecular assays, you can actually help the bottom line of a hospital and a medical lab. It's part of the ongoing conversation alongside other things to be more accurate, and quicker turnarounds—and all of those things that we need to do to improve patient care.”

Rodney E. Rohde, PhD, MS, University Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Clinical Laboratory Science Program, College of Health Professions at Texas State University

Neurology

“The more we understand about what’s happening in COVID-19, or hypoxia, for example, may help us understand other Alzheimer-type pathologies and what interventions might be useful in people with sporadic Alzheimer [disease], for example. Hopefully there will be more evolution in terms of our understanding of cognitive processes in general, even as they relate to post-ICU patients.”

Jennifer Frontera, MD, Neuro-critical Care Specialist, NYU Langone

Oncology

“When working with the FDA, it’s a matter of clear communication and transparency. We are very limited in time. We encourage sponsors, both academic and commercial industry, to request meetings. Unfortunately, sometimes we can't accommodate everyone's requests. I just hope that people recognize that we have a lot of competing priorities, but we want to help and will help as best we can. In terms of how we can optimize that communication, transparency is very important.”

Peter Bross, MD, Chief, Oncology branch, Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research

Ophthalmology

“Hopefully we’ll end up treating earlier and potentially reducing overall formation to geographic atrophy and further visual loss. I think it’s not a wowee moment, it’s a step. A wowee moment is when a patient comes in and they’re not seeing and suddenly they’re seeing or a patient comes in and thanks me for doing the treatment, like when we first got anti-VEGF agents. But, I think it's going to be a step in the right direction.”

David Boyer, MD, Senior Partner, Retina Vitreous Associates Medical Group

Pediatrics

“Since the 1960s, you say, ‘Oh I know your baby has RSV, and there’s nothing I can do.

[A vaccine is also about] that really, really impactful, patient-by-patient experience…That’s the joy in this vaccine, you can finally say, ‘I have something to offer.’”

Iona M. Munjal, MD, Director of Clinical Research and Development, Pfizer

Rheumatology

“Moving into the future, the winning combination is utilizing both patient-reported outcomes and the physician’s assessment collectively in order to assess disease activity, quality of life, and effectiveness of treatment and therapeutics both in research and in clinical practice.”

Saira Z. Sheikh, MD, Linda Coley Sewell Distinguished Professor of Medicine Rheumatology, Allergy & Immunology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Sleep Medicine

“Over the past couple years, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, sleep in general is having a moment. Insomnia specifically definitely has grown in the public awareness of what a problem it is. Insomnia rates were rising considerably during the pandemic, particularly during the stay-at home orders, really raising the salience of sleep problems, across the population. From young people to old people, many people, even more so than before, are aware of it.”

Wendy Troxel, PhD, Senior Behavioral Scientist, RAND Corporation