Are we living in a post-truth era? Some days, it sure seems that way.
In the United States presidential election, debates about facts have become scripted spectacles (when they happen at all). People choose their “news” based on their political affiliations. Social media provides echo chambers rather than intellectual challenges. Public health is treated as a matter of opinion, rather than of evidence.
What good would knowing the “truth” do anyway? Less than a year ago, no one could have predicted the current state of the world: a global pandemic, economic recession, social unrest, political rancor, and natural disasters. As a result, many of us are witnessing and supporting each other through such massive change via Zoom and Facetime, feeling more isolated than ever. And these unpredictable, exogenous events have made the healthcare business harder than ever.
Yet these unprecedented times haven’t revealed new flaws in our healthcare system. They’ve simply further exposed the structural failings that have existed for a long time – the weak spots that we’ve been papering over, rather than truly fixing. They’ve also revealed new opportunities to move faster and engage consumers on their terms rather than ours.
It’d be hubris to think we know what challenges we’ll face in 2021. Yet, we do know what we need to be designing our businesses for over the next 5 to 10 years. Healthcare will be more digital, and the balance of episodic versus continuous care will start to shift. We’ll think differently about scale economics and geographic reach. The science of care will change. Artificial intelligence will become a core transformation tool. We’ll finally have to tackle affordability in a meaningful way. Inequality will continue to grow unless we do more about it. And we’ll need to be better leaders.
That's what this year’s Oliver Wyman Health Innovation Summit is all about. And that's why the theme of this year’s Summit is Future Truths: Inevitable and Inspiring.
Inevitable, because while we may not know exactly when the industry will change (consider, for example, how two decades of limited telehealth adoption until COVID-19 provided an unexpected catalyst), we know what changes must happen eventually. We can choose to start changing now, skating to where the proverbial puck is going – even if we don’t know exactly when it will get there.
Inspiring, because the best really is yet to come. For example, earlier this month, Emmanuelle Charpentier and Jennifer Doudna were awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry for their work on CRISPR genome editing technology, which has the potential not just to treat but to cure diseases that today we consider death sentences. (We’ll hear more about how the science of care is changing from Jennifer’s collaborator, Fyodor Urnov, at the Summit.) We have a lot to fix about our healthcare system. But we also have tremendous potential to relieve people’s burdens and change their lives like never before.
In examining these truths, we’ve been careful not to create our own post-truth echo chamber. Joining us will be leaders from across the healthcare industry, and outside of it – including Tim Spence from Fifth Third Bank, who will challenge us regarding the real potential of interoperability digital consumer engagement. Our speakers bring diverse experiences and come from diverse backgrounds. And we’ll be convening in small groups, challenging ideas and shaping the industry dialogue – not just watching presentations.
Next week, we’ll almost certainly arrive at more questions than answers. Isn’t that what the search for truth is all about?
Editor’s Note: In the coming days, weeks, and months, we’ll explore healthcare’s future truths through written perspectives from healthcare leaders and event recaps from the 2020 Health Innovation Summit.