Editor's Note: Presenters at this year's Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit, Dr. Stephen Klasko and Hemant Taneja, believe healthcare isn't nearly as complicated as it seems. Instead, it's an industry of opportunity for those willing to roll up their sleeves and dive in headfirst into the unknown.
The first myth that needs to be demythified is that “healthcare is complicated.” That has become an excuse to maintain a static, unsustainable healthcare system. While we can debate whether the Amazon-JP Morgan-Berkshire Hathaway dive into the healthcare system will be a game changer, it is a harbinger of disruptions to come. Large employers are rethinking our fragmented, inefficient and inequitable system with the goal of streamlining the experience of prescribing, receiving and paying for care.
At a time when the whole of content, commerce, and community has been reimagined with cloud and mobile technologies, healthcare has instead languished. Neighborhood video stores and newsstands have been replaced by apps that have made millions of titles and articles available with a simple tap. Virtually anything can be found online in seconds and delivered in hours.
Not so for healthcare, which has escaped the technological revolution that is transforming the consumer experience everywhere else. Our healthcare system favors providers and payers over patients, leaving their critical needs aside while focusing on feeding an increasingly dysfunctional bureaucratic system of forms and formularies.
Three Factors That Keep Healthcare on Rewind, not on Fast Forward
There are three main factors that conspire to keep forward progress at bay. The first is an ineffective and incomplete public policy. The Affordable Care Act made it possible for millions of people to acquire health insurance, but what they got was access to a fundamentally broken, expensive, inequitable and occasionally unsafe healthcare delivery system. The hope appeared to be that with all these new people in the risk pool, the system would automatically evolve to something more efficient and less expensive. It hasn’t…and it won’t until the patient is the boss.
The second obstacle to progress is a healthcare ecosystem that’s anything but consumer centric. The current business model for healthcare is designed to meet the needs of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies and insurers, not consumers. To the extent that innovation is changing anything, its focus continues to be the bureaucracy itself – consolidation within industries, new reimbursement frameworks and the like.
The third factor hindering progress is our healthcare system’s remarkably stubborn resistance to adopting modern technological platforms. For all of the problems facing healthcare in this country today, perhaps most startling is that there is zero incentive for hospitals and systems to adopt new, “disruptive” technologies that would foster coordination between patients and providers.
Unleashing the Beast
But there may be light at the end of this long tunnel. Hospital and technology leaders are coming together to challenge the status quo. We believe that the future of healthcare tech will be one that runs on open platform-based solutions, is committed to interoperability, and offers consumers and medical professionals alike a useful, reliable experience that is accessible from any mobile device.
As a high-tech investor and a healthcare executive, our goal is to unleash the passion and creativity of our technology sector to bring focus and discipline to healthcare delivery. Just as smartphones have transformed banking, retail and entertainment, technology could enable modes of healthcare delivery that aren’t tied to any single address or system.
Electronic health records, treatment protocols, therapy profiles and other information will be accessible wherever it’s needed to help a patient, whether she’s in the ER, at her doctor's office, at home or connecting virtually. When we finally achieve this, health and wellness will become a seamless part of every patient’s life, and health systems will be able to focus on innovating around new care pathways and best practices for optimal outcomes, rather than wasting their days writing custom applications to “work around” EMRs.
Creating a flexible digital ecosystem as a marriage between tech and healthcare delivery won’t just save money and improve overall care experience, it will make the human experience more enriching both for providers and patients. More than half of physicians report at least one symptom of burnout, due in significant part to administrative burden and multiple technologies that are not interoperable and not nearly as flexible as the digital technologies that they encounter in the non-medical aspects of their lives.
Designing a Win-Win for Both Patients and Doctors
Studies have shown that if physicians are given both the technological tools and the data they need to make informed decisions, both the patient and provider benefit. Patients win because access and quality increase while the cost curve bends downward. Providers win because they are not swimming upstream when it comes to monitoring the efficiency and effectiveness of their care. We want to make this happen.
The great transformation is coming. Providers and employers are demanding it. Patients will come to expect it. We are limited only by the creativity of the human spirit and the dedication of those working to provide better care for all.