The healthcare industry is curbing the cost of care.


Healthcare spending in the US usually tracks with the same ebbs and flows as GDP. That may not be true much longer as the entire industry focuses on bending the cost curve.


Many are pointing to the banking and airline industries for the evolution of digitization in healthcare. Both industries empowered consumers with point of service terminals and eventually mobile services that could be accessed anywhere and at anytime of day.


Healthcare will likely follow the same evolution. Following the JPM annual conference, most articles explained the focus of each vertical within the industry. However, there are some broader themes that are noteworthy now.


Demand for healthcare


The pent up demand that many providers expect to see post Covid might not materialize to the extent expected. For instance, some patients who would have undergone surgery for their medical condition have been treated with drugs and/or physical therapy. They may not need or want surgery when the service is fully restored.


Some of the changes in care during Covid may become the new standards of care post Covid. Those changes in care standards are expected to get factored into plan design, coverage and payment.


Health equity


Expanding access to healthcare to ensure health equity for all Americans would be challenging to do without more cuts for unnecessary services. The deficit is at an all time high and with healthcare already consuming a large portion of the Federal budget, the pressure to do more with less is increasing.


Driving the cost of care down


Industry experts used to talk about the right site of service as the differentiating cost factor. The new differentiating factor is service.


Chatbots are being used to assess Covid patients to determine medical necessity and when necessary, directing patients to the right method of care for their condition. It could be a Telehealth visit or an in person visit.


Healthcare systems are right sizing their real estate footprint as plans for popular initiatives such as Hospital at Home expand and new products play a bigger role in the delivery of care. 


Administrative office space will also be reconfigured or eliminated. Staff working from home now will not be required to return to the office full time.


Collaboration + Cooperation


Many leaders believe the pie is big enough and are asking for cooperation from everyone in the industry to remove the barriers that hinder the flow of information.


Consequently, security, privacy and interoperability is top of mind for leaders this year in anticipation of an Open API initiative. The intention versus the industry interpretation of HIPAA is being reevaluated. The original interpreted may have been too stringent in relation to privacy and interoperability. 


The need for trust


Trust is the linchpin for how the system moves forward. How each vertical builds trust is a little different but there are some key components for us all to keep in mind.


  • The communication to consumers and patients needs to reflect reality.
  • The system has to be fair and just.
  • The weakest link effects us all.


Renewal is not just innovation and change. It is also the process of bringing the results of change into line with our purposes. — John W. Gardner


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