Futuree-image
Oct 30, 2018

The Future of Healthcare is … Depends on Who You Ask

Healthcare leaders gathered in Chicago in late September at the 3rd Annual Altruista Consumer Advisory Board (CAB) Summit to engage, share perspectives and network with their peers. The event was the best-attended CAB event Altruista has hosted and the occasion was rich with ideas and thoughtful conversation. Among the highlights was a panel discussion on the future of healthcare.

Altruista Chief Medical Officer Munish Khaneja, MD, moderated the discussion held by Nathan Funk, Senior Vice President and Medicaid Practice Lead with Optum Advisory Services, Matthew Miller, Senior Manager in Accenture’s Health & Public Service practice, and Altruista’s Chief Executive Officer, Ashish Kachru. 

Several participants expressed the belief that a consumer-driven model will emerge and that personalization will become important to delivering effective care. While aging baby boomers seem to be getting most of the headlines these days, panelists agreed that being prepared for millennials is equally important. 

A great deal of the discussion centered around the many advances that technology will make possible in delivering value-based, personalized care. Artificial intelligence, interoperability and machine learning all rose to the top of the list as game-changers for the future of the healthcare system. 

Major technology shift on the horizon

Funk predicted that with a proliferation of data and personal devices, consumers will be notified when they need to go to the doctor – “just like having a check engine light on your car.” He sees a major shift in technology in the next five years that will drive healthcare decisions, especially at the consumer level.

While care recommendations today are made within mobile apps and through emails, they are still driven by retrospective claims data, he said. There are limits to how valuable that data is in shaping current behavior. It won’t be long before these prompts come from wearable devices that work off of real-time data.

Focus is not just on technology

Miller stressed that payers must focus on what he considers the three legs of a stool – technology, relationships and education. While advancing technologies like AI and machine learning are critical, forming relationships with members and patients cannot be overlooked. Connecting with members in their homes and community is vital. Additionally, educating all stakeholders in the care delivery process is extremely important – beyond just the member – to include the caregiver, the doctor and other providers and resources. The health plan should view its role as the connector in the care delivery process and ensure all parties are working toward the same goal. Technology will be used to facilitate this process, but it will not be the only solution.

SDOH a silver bullet

While there was unanimous agreement on the importance and promise of technology, the value of engaging members and addressing the whole person was also thought to be critical to the future of healthcare plans and systems as well. 

“Social determinants of health are key,” Funk said. “This will be the big silver bullet.” He spoke of managing the entire lifecycle of a member with SDOH in mind. As well as managing costs, SDOH support indicates to a member that a health plan cares not just about their medical needs, but about their social needs as well.

“Building relationships with the member and using community resources like social workers increases trust,” said one participant.

However, getting data is only part of the challenge, Kachru said.  

“Behavior modification is the hardest part,” he said. “This is where providers and plans can work collaboratively to effect change.” He stressed that behavioral health is more important than medical health. Models integrating the two are more likely to be effective. 

Consumers will determine the future

Consumers have become smarter and more demanding in healthcare. They want to know what they are buying and what they are getting in return. They are already starting to demand what they want from their plans and providers, and the rest of industry need to prepare for this. Consumers expect healthcare to be simpler, and technology will help make this happen. Who knows? Players like Amazon are known for disrupting markets, and they’ve already entered the healthcare space. Payers and providers need to be ready.

“One thing is for sure,” Kachru said. “If we don’t change what we are doing today, the health plan as we know it today won’t be here tomorrow.”