There is no question that Healthcare (and I mean capital ‘H’ healthcare) is in a state of flux. There are some recent developments that have such potential for grand disruption. I’m excited to see how these worlds collide to bring something that most of us (at least those of us in the industry for a long, long time) have a hard time conceptualizing. We used to think that retailers and big pharma entering the healthcare delivery system was a disruption. Weren’t those the days?
Shame on those of us who got comfortable. But hooray for the possibilities that are laid out before us.
Using technology to deliver better care?
I’ve spent a lot of my time in healthcare focused on technology. How it is being used to deliver care better. Giving us access to data that will change the game, so to speak. Electronic health records and interoperability certainly move us in the right direction, but implementing a new system is only step one. If your goal is to transform healthcare delivery, you must first be self-aware, and then you need the resources to turn data into actionable solutions.
Telemedicine has amazing potential. And I’m not just referring to a system that gets me an antibiotic script without having to lug my sick self to a physical doctor’s office. (That’s not to diminish the value of that benefit because it truly is a convenience I enjoy.) It can help deliver care to the far reaches of the world. It can bring the best minds together, providing treatments and cures where there were none.
But are we delivering better care? Maybe. Maybe not. The number of patients with chronic disease continues to grow. We cannot seem to reverse trend on the opioid epidemic. And there remain millions of people who don’t access care at all because they simply cannot afford it.
I believe we should do better.
We are among the world’s wealthiest and most developed countries. Yet we’ve struggled with the same healthcare challenges for decades. Looking at you: increasing cost, inherent inefficiencies, and worsening (not improving) population health. We’ve attempted to change the insurance markets with legislation, only to unravel those efforts in a swirl of partisan infighting. We just don’t have time for that. Government is great for many things, but in this case, it has not produced a viable solution to our broken system. (Note: I’m not making this a political statement as much as I’m simply pointing out that we’ve long surpassed the ‘three strikes, you’re out’ rule when it comes to fixing healthcare with legislation.)
That’s why I’m intrigued by concepts like the Robomed Network, using blockchain technology to upend and circumvent so many of the traditional incentives in this industry. If you ask most patients what they want from their healthcare system, the answer is better and more convenient care at a reasonable price. Words like choice, accountability, quality, and transparency have been thrown around for so long that they’ve lost their potency. But Robomed is blending all of those things in a global marketplace where participants are held to account. Patients contract with providers for healthcare services. They are receiving the benefit of worldwide best practice algorithms. Outcomes are not only transparent, but the very metric by which the provider is paid. Isn’t that what we’ve been talking about when we use terms like value-based healthcare? In fact, it is. But now the market is driving that change, not the government’s reimbursement structure…so I have real hope that it will happen.
And just last week we learned that Amazon, JP Morgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway are joining forces to run their own healthcare experiment. Even without all the details ironed out, most people’s reaction can be summed up like this: brilliant! They certainly have enough of the US workforce covered to create and test something that will get everyone’s attention. What’s even more exciting is if they create a model that can be replicated or expanded to the rest of us.
So much potential. I can’t wait to see what comes next.