By The Force Team, December 13, 2017
In a recent episode of A Healthy Dose podcast, interviewee Charlie Martin shared his thoughts on the future of healthcare. The founder of the Vanguard Health Systems, who entered the industry quite literally from the ground up with his work in construction, is now planning on tearing it down. In his own bio, he presents himself as a man on a new mission. “As a former hospital operator, Charlie Martin is well aware that he was part of the problem with healthcare and healthcare delivery. Now, he wants to be part of the solution.”
While some of his thoughts on the issue were a bit radical -- his ideal scenario involves cutting in-hospital care in half, and doing “the half that’s left...for half the price.” -- his line of thinking speaks to the coming trends and changes.
The issue is, the entire healthcare system costs too much, and changes must be made to maximize efficiency. The question then becomes, what are the leaders doing now to position themselves in a way that prepares them for this future ultimately leading them to greater success than those that don't?
Going digital to go global
Uber is a leading taxi service without owning cars, AirBnB is a major hotel competitor without owning buildings. Software and digital platforms are gaining serious traction in every other industry, and it will in healthcare too.
Physical hospitals are massive cost drivers, so moving recovery into the home, which has positive impacts on outcomes anyway, will keep costs down. Many health systems are already doing this, but without fully rectifying the miscommunication that comes with distance. Technology can help bridge that gap with communication and education while preventing unnecessary post-acute costs.
Right now, physicians have to increase their patient volumes astronomically to maintain a profit. But, in current systems, more patients means harder to manage. Going digital expands reach to any patient no matter how far, while physicians better manage the high volumes of care.
Create an Experience
In a commercialized market, inundated with choice, healthcare systems will need to find new ways to captivate the “consumer patient” by meeting them where they are -- they way every other business does. Offering a stellar product isn’t enough anymore. You have to frame your product to fit into a holistic experience.
The first step is to understand that your entire episode of care is the “product”. Each step in the care process must then be treated as equal parts of the whole, from the moment surgery is scheduled, through recovery. How patients experience that product is clinical, administrative, and emotional. Health systems are becoming responsible for all of it.
Transparency with Cost and Effectiveness of the Product
As it stands, patients are only presented the final cost of a given procedure after the fact, when the explanation of benefits comes in the mail. That’s like picking out a pair of socks at the store, only to find out after the credit card swipe that they cost $100, and there's no return policy. But in a consumer-centered market, that may not always be the case.
Heightened healthcare competition requires key differentiators, on which patients can base their consumer decisions. As patients increasingly become major players in the payor game, they will actively seek out the best bang for their buck. This shift will put pressure on systems to prove excellence in both quality and price.
To do this, you have to collect valuable data and use it. By implementing actionable metrics you can gain insight into how to make your already great product even better in the eyes of the consumer. Then, when you’ve created an episode of care with evidence of quality, you can market the product effectively. Consumer-patients do their research, they want proof they are making the best purchase.
Health organizations that capitalize this business-mindset strategy will earn their spot as a Center of Excellence thus earning the high volumes that equate to profit. The leaders in this new market of healthcare will see astronomic payoffs when the transition is all said and done.