The following is a guest post from Constance Sjoquist, chief content officer for HTLH.
It will come as no surprise that the healthcare ecosystem is disorganized and increasingly destabilizing. Key stakeholders have made countless claims that healthcare is broken. Payers, providers, employers, government, pharma, startups and investors have competing interests, priorities and methods of working. There is much discussion about the innovation and transformation that needs to materialize, as the necessary collaboration amongst stakeholders to achieve this is rare.
There is no one magic bullet to revolutionize the industry, but there are strategies that can result in significant change. Following are three steps that healthcare stakeholders – and the industry collectively – can take to drive healthcare transformation:
1. Learn from other industries
Healthcare lags in comparison to other industries when it comes to integrating and deploying innovative technologies. To catch up, healthcare must take pages out of other industry playbooks, particularly the playbooks that finance, travel and retail have used to radically change and improve the way they operate.
- Finance and Banking: In the past several years, finance and banking have been upended by digital disruption. Macro trends such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, big data and mobile apps have steered the creation of crowdfunding, peer-to-peer lending, mobile payments and the adoption of bitcoin and robo-advisers. Fintech innovators have found success in collaborating with traditional banks and insurers.
- Travel and Transportation: The travel and transportation industries have been ruffled by the likes of ride hailing applications, such as Uber and Lyft. The expansion of data has enabled commuters to re-route around traffic or predict when their bus or train will arrive. Computing power and interoperable websites, like Kayak and Orbitz, have increased transparency, allowing consumers to compare prices and reviews. The widespread use of personal technology has forced the transportation sector to focus on consumers’ needs, while at the same time creating efficiencies across the transportation ecosystem.
- Retail: The transition to digital commerce affords consumers the luxury of making purchases – from necessities, like groceries, to high-end items, such as electronics – from nearly anywhere in the world, during any hour of every day. Companies like Amazon and Walmart provide user-friendly tools to search, compare, ship and even return items, giving consumers a triple aim of confidence, convenience and satisfaction. In addition, the retail industry has enabled extreme (“uber”) personalization. Retailers have advanced from mass marketing to highly targeted information and recommendations that appeal to the appetite of an individual.
What do these three industries have in common? A focus on the consumer. The innovations adopted benefit a single individual and are supported by personalization. In healthcare, the appreciation for and the understanding of the needs of the consumer have been slower to realize. Adoption of technology has been slower. However, this is starting to change. A recent report from Rock Health revealed 2017 is shattering records for digital health funding, indicating that we should expect technology to play a major role in driving transformation across the healthcare ecosystem.
While there is reason for celebration, there is cause for skepticism in how much and how fast innovation can occur in healthcare. Why? Because healthcare is very risk averse. Decision-makers want to see firsthand, from their peers, which strategies, technologies, partnerships and investments will drive down costs and improve outcomes before committing to budgets, resources and time towards disruptive solutions or strategies. However, there’s continued urgency to offer better care at lower costs for patient populations, and statistics demonstrate that the demand for innovation that can significantly transform care delivery and lower care costs is as pressing as ever.
2. Break down siloes
To create change, the existing silos must be shattered. This starts with meaningful discussions and actionable strategies among healthcare industry stakeholders.
The lack of clean data that can be securely shared across industry segments is the main issue that is preventing progress. Currently, providers (hospitals, clinics and doctor's offices), payers, employers, pharma companies, EHR vendors, health apps and other health organizations have a plethora of data. Unfortunately, the data isn’t often shared across the platforms or between patients and their caretakers. This lack of data aggregation, analysis and interoperability slows the flow of informed decision-making, and ultimately adds waste and inaccuracy to the entire health ecosystem.
Meaningful discussion, collaboration and policy on how to best manage, share and amortize data must take place across the healthcare ecosystem. Consensus from key decision-makers, including those representing health policy and health consumers, must transpire. Stakeholders must be willing to have the tough conversations – to work through the major pain points and challenges – for data to have a major role in the transformation of healthcare. Most importantly, underlying a uniform vision of the seamless flow of usable data, there needs to be an industry-wide commitment to support the development of a nationwide, interoperable health IT infrastructure. Without this commitment, the silos of data – even clean data – will impede industry transformation.
3. Be proactive
As both sides of the political aisle debate what’s next for healthcare, there needs to be a shift in dialogue. Conversations must evolve from what is broken to what is possible – and these conversations can’t be relegated to only those in Washington D.C. They need to occur in communities, healthcare settings, corporate headquarters and homes across the country.
Being proactive is essential. Moving forward will require honest and open communication among all industry stakeholders. Conversations that ignite a movement to create the transformative change should be a priority – otherwise the cycle of stalemate will continue. But conversation won’t be enough. Communication must spark action, incite a true commitment to progress and ensure a willingness to recalibrate and adjust as often as required.
The fact is change won’t happen overnight. Healthcare is going through a massive disruption. What’s needed is a new forum that will act as a catalyst to move the dialogue forward. The entire industry of thought leaders, innovators, disruptors and decision-makers must be present to share concerns and promote strategies and solutions to drive change. May 6-9, 2018, HLTH will serve as the platform for this dialogue to take place.