Over the past year, we've interviewed a dozen + healthcare industry leaders who are creatively disrupting traditional financing and care delivery models. As we celebrate the start of a new year, we share their perspectives on the future of healthcare. According to these visionaries, the future looks bright - full of tech enablement, connectivity, data, precision, value, personalization, prevention, and opportunity:
The other night my husband used a web application from One Medical to book a doctor’s appointment online. He said to me, “Wow, this is amazing!” I said, “It shouldn’t be that amazing; we’ve been ordering pizza online for years.” I hope the future of healthcare sees enough technology advancement that our local pizza place doesn’t have more sophisticated technology than healthcare enterprises.
I hypothesize that the most transformed aspect of the healthcare industry will be how consumers engage their care. We are fast entering an age where technology and systems are going to be able to engage consumers directly and improve their health without the need for a direct 1-to-1 interaction with a provider. I see the role of the provider, specifically the primary care physician, moving from “being the quarterback” (needing to be in the game, on the field) to “being the coach on the sidelines” (directing the game, driving strategy, but not needing to be an on-the-field participant) to potentially “being the general manager of the team” (not even needing to direct the game or be on the sidelines, but instead lining up the resources, both technology and human, that will be used to drive an outcome). It is that potential transformation in the role of the provider that I believe will have the most meaningful impact.
I see a connected hospital. To me, the future of healthcare is not going to be going to the hospital, receiving care, and going back home. I see an experience where the entire journey is connected, measured, and scrutinized. Every step along the way, there will be a data point that can be analyzed to optimize and personalize your care. I see an API for healthcare on the horizon that will make the ecosystem more connected and efficient. That is going to create the biggest impact that we have ever seen in healthcare – bigger than a new drug or bigger than a new medical device.
If I were to summarize what I think the future of healthcare will look like in one word, I would say “precision.” As we continue to innovate and develop new technologies and new ways of delivering care to people, we will be able to deliver care with more precision. By that I mean we will be able to customize and individualize care pathways according to a person’s genotype and phenotype. I envision a world where we will be able to customize the site of where service is delivered to drive better engagement and outcomes. More precise care will enable us to use our healthcare dollars more efficiently and get a better return on investment.
Technology offers so many new ways for consumers to interact with and manage healthcare and coverage, and it’ll continue to be a major source of innovation as we look for new ways to improve health and well-being. More and more, consumers are looking for greater affordability and convenience when accessing care and support. Not only does technology present an opportunity to deliver that, but it makes it possible for us to provide outreach at more relevant touch points for the members and patients we serve.
Everyone is really afraid of data sharing, but the reality is that if we all shared our healthcare data we would all be much better off. If you had a certain amount of genomic data and you married that with behavioral data and outcome data, you would have a data set that would enable more prescriptive and personalized healthcare. Instead of running a drug trial that may take three or four years, you could run a computer simulation and, based on the molecular structure of the drug and person’s genetic makeup, you will be able to know whether a medication will work or not. Then you get to a place where you can reverse engineer a drug. More data sharing will lead to personalization, better outcomes, and better health.
While we’re trying to make healthcare more personalized for consumers, we’re also helping providers to get more out of the time that they spend with patients. That means helping them to understand – what to do, for whom, and why. We’ll move away from the way medicine has been practiced for years when every treatment is almost a mini clinical trial. There’s a reason doctors say, “I’m going to try this for you.” Too often, they don’t know if it’s going to work. There needs to be a lot more confidence and precision so the doctor actually knows what’s going to work for the person standing in front of them. We shouldn’t have to ask patients to go through so much trial and error to actually figure out if a solution exists.
It’s encouraging to see the rate and magnitude of innovation that’s occurred related to consumer centricity in healthcare, but there’s still a lot of room for product and service improvement. For consumers to be empowered and effectively manage their healthcare, they need tools that are easy to use, integrate complex data, and provide a holistic experience. And “consumer centric” solutions shouldn’t necessarily be equated with elegant technology alone. It’s about connecting with consumers in a manner in which they’re comfortable.
The new healthcare economy has arrived and it is demanding significant innovation. Old business models are being disrupted and new players are emerging, as are weird and wonderful new partnerships. The promise of digital health to play a key role in this world is real, but we are on the 20 yard line with a long way to go. While new, cheap technology makes the previously impossible possible, we are still on the front end of major changes in our insurance market, the shift from volume to value, and realizing the worth of the now installed base of EMRs, among other things. As we get to true interoperability we will unleash a whole other level of potential. It will be interesting to see if healthcare’s existing big players can rise to the occasion or whether we will see a new generation of companies best capitalize on changing industry dynamics to become the next generation of healthcare leaders. The new rules of healthcare supremacy are being written as we speak and technology plays a huge role in this transition. And as everyone knows, those who have the gold make the rules.
We will drive a lot of value earlier in the process, through prevention and primary care. Today the system is largely built around acute episodes: What happens when you get really sick? What happens when you go to the ER? What happens when you go to the hospital? The best way to prevent those episodes is through early intervention. That just doesn’t work really well in a FFS system with a lot of infrastructure. Value-based payments will start to change that. Another issue is that for the most part a 20-, 50-, and 70-year-old all go to the same doctor’s office for care. What we will see is more and more sub segmentation in how people access the system.
Simple answer is n=1. The future of healthcare will be hyper personalized. It’s all about moving away from one size fits all. We’re seeing it in the pharma industry with a move away from blockbuster drugs to personalized medicine. I would say hyper personalized care where n=1 is the future. I’d also say it’s preventative. For too long, we’ve been focused and buried under the cost of sick care. It’s far less expensive to identify issues early and prevent issues from beginning in the first place.
The future looks great. The healthcare system as a business and as an industry is full of opportunities for innovation to improve. The best kind of industry for an entrepreneur to focus on is one where: 1) The industry is growing; 2) there are lots of inefficiencies baked in; and 3) you’re in an industry where there is an opportunity to make a meaningful difference in the world. The healthcare industry exceeds others on all three of those points. The challenge is that it’s a very complex environment and slow to change, but the opportunities are huge. The opportunity for all of us to live healthier and better is right in front of us.