The healthcare industry has changed a lot in the past several years, especially in the advent of technology and the move toward value-based care. It’s also no secret that there are numerous benefits — and challenges — that come with this shift. However, at the center of it all is a common goal: to provide quality care. The great thing is, there are a lot of professionals from different parts of our industry that are dedicated to achieving it.
Last month, I joined leaders from all parts of our industry at the Health: Further conference in Nashville. Over the meeting’s two days, lots of dialogue was shared, most surrounding the state of today’s healthcare experience and ways we can propel it forward through championing innovation and working together.
Three themes seemed to echo throughout the conference:
1) Healthcare Innovation is a mindset.
Many of the speakers at the conference drove home the idea that innovation in healthcare is not just technology, but also rethinking current processes to better achieve the ultimate outcome: healthy patients and populations. To achieve this, those of us on the supply side of healthcare need to put ourselves in the mindset of the patient.
For example, a current challenge in healthcare is how to put more emphasis on preventive care and encourage patients to be accountable for their health. One analogy, was that of grocery store design. Stores found that if they put healthy items on shelves at chest level, easily accessible within a clear line of sight, shoppers were more inclined to make better nutritional decisions. Could this same idea work for healthcare? Make prevention easy and available, and people will achieve it. We’re seeing hints of this as health apps and wearables become more popular with patients and more widely accepted by providers, but it’s just the beginning. When we view situations from a patient’s perspective, we can discover ways to guide them into becoming more informed and proactive with their health.
2) Behavioral Science could unlock the secret to patient compliance.
Providers can prescribe care plans and treatments, but it’s ultimately up to the patient to follow through. An idea that was discussed was looking toward the field of Behavioral Science. Behavioral Science could be a key to understanding why patients ignore some directions and pieces of advice from their provider, yet adhere to others or why they choose to withhold important information about their health. By understanding the barriers facing patients, uncovering these “whys”, we can work to overcome them, and build programs to beneficially engage patients, gain trust, and improve outcomes.
3) Healthcare must push toward better interoperability.
Think about all of the sensitive information associated with a patient’s health profile: their demographics, identification documents, medical history, medications, insurance providers, payment methods, and much more. These records need to be accessed securely by multiple parties for even the most basic levels of care management and payment collection. Though Healthcare Information Technology has helped to make information sharing easier, there are many disparate systems, built on multiple platforms by thousands of different companies. How can we make it easier for these systems to talk to each other efficiently and securely? Many conversations at the conference were about looking to other industries with more developed data-sharing systems in place to find solutions. Industries such as banking and telecommunications share account information across platforms and with multiple parties. Some presenters spoke of the use of Blockchain technology, which has already been proven to create a secure, decentralized data repository for banks, allowing organizations to share access through multi-signatures and cryptography. Could something like it work for our industry too?
Though there are still questions, it’s exciting to think of all the possibilities the shifting healthcare landscape will bring. Change is going to take work and many of the solutions discussed at Health: Further are still in their infancy and even the exploratory phase. The important thing is that we are discussing them, and exchanging ideas and perspectives from our various vantage points in the industry. Working together to bring innovation to healthcare will help us all move faster and further, improving outcomes for all of us: providers, partners, and most importantly, our patients.