In this article, first published in BRINK, executives from Mount Sinai Health System, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and Optum weigh in on their dreams and aspirations for healthcare's future.
The healthcare industry is sitting on the edge of disruption. What innovations can be expected next, and how can today’s executives, leaders, and innovators prepare for the unexpected?
At last month’s Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit, four executives at one particular session — Looking Back to Look Ahead: Where Do We Go From Here? — answered these questions and more. By analyzing past industry patterns and breakthroughs in population health, artificial intelligence, care accessibility, and beyond, they forecast where healthcare executives and leaders should focus next as the industry progresses.
Although popular buzzwords several years ago included population health, value-based care, and care models, today’s buzzwords revolve around topics such as artificial intelligence, affordability, health care consumers, and genomics, emphasized Sam Glick, partner in Oliver Wyman’s Health & Life Sciences practice and director of Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Center Leaders Alliance.
The healthcare industry is currently focused on operational work, such as revising old organizational models, retraining staff, and figuring out how to move forward while in the midst of progress, said Niyum Gandhi, executive vice president and chief population health officer at Mount Sinai Health System.
“I wonder which pieces of this will be the hard, operational work in a year or two and which ones will fade away, or stay innovative,” Mr. Gandhi noted.
“What’s broken in our industry is that the consumer and customer are different,” Mr. Gandhi said. “In pretty much every other industry, the consumer and customer are more tightly aligned. If you really define ‘value’ properly, you need to think about how you define ‘value’ for the consumer, while also defining it for the customer.”
Identifying Tomorrow’s Opportunities
There is great anticipation in today’s industry around exciting new topics, such as the yet untapped opportunities and potential around machine learning and artificial intelligence, said Michael Weissel, Optum’s group executive vice president. But engaging consumers must remain a top priority moving forward, he said.
“Technology is great, but at the end of the day, a person has to change their behavior in some way for the health care system to make a difference,” Mr. Weissel said. “I get a lot more excited about driving engagement than some of the more sexy stuff people love to talk about.”
Old-fashioned face-to-face communication across the industry must be a priority, Mr. Weissel said. This means pharmacists need to be more engaged in advising patients, and physicians must learn how to better understand gaps in care or whether or not a patient actually needs to go to an urgent care center, he explained.