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3 key themes from PSBJ’s “Healthcare of the Future”

Earlier this month, the Puget Sound Business Journal hosted its annual “Healthcare of the Future” breakfast (#PSBJHCOF) — a cornerstone healthcare event for our region. Executive panelists focused on the future of healthcare delivery, technology and reporting.

Key themes from PSBJ’s “Healthcare of the Future”

Shift to consumerization

Today’s trends: People arm themselves with health information from zillions of sources instead of their “trusted advisor” (aka their primary care doctor). People want answers immediately and don’t want to wait for appointments. And they really want more choice in the entire patient experience, from where they go to who they see. To make this happen, everything in the healthcare industry needs to put the patient experience first.

Panelists agreed that care needs to leave the confines of a hospital and meet people where they are — whether it’s a home, at work or on the go with health apps. (And the care shouldn’t just focus on the sick — it needs to help push preventive measures too!) By meeting people where they’re at, the virtual clinic team from Carena can treat 68 percent of their patients on the spot while referring 32 percent to a facility. This gets more people “in” to see a doctor and applies the right level of care at the right time — reducing unnecessary trips to the ER.

Navigation

Patients want more choice — but they don’t necessarily understand what to look for or where to start. How do they navigate the new world of virtual clinics, retail clinics, hotlines and hospitals? And how do health plans fit in? This opens up the opportunity for patient navigators and concierge services that tailor healthcare for each individual, getting them the right care at the right time — with the highest value.

Transparency

To improve the overall health system, everyone agreed we need more transparency: in costs, process, value and data sharing. This may come in the form of physician rating tools from companies like Mpirica Health Inc, whose CEO Shakil Haroon discussed the importance of rewarding patients for “smarter shopping.” Educational content may also help, like the “Savvy Shopper Series” from the Washington Health Alliance that showcases high-value healthcare. The bottom line is that people need more information to make smart decisions. 

This is a key area for employers to step in. Panelists agreed that employers need to educate their employees about their choices and teach them how to be savvy healthcare consumers. By doing this, employers won’t just save money. They’ll create good will. Nancy Giunto, executive director of Washington Health Alliance, said it best: Urge employers to think about the total value of health — not just how to cut costs. 

Our own Limeade data echoes this: When employees feels their employer cares about their well-being, they’re 38 percent more engaged at work. Employees who are engaged lead to better business outcomes.

So, while the healthcare landscape may be confusing, the rise of consumerization is shifting the equation. Patients and employers are gaining more power and tools. This helps everyone navigate the system, understand costs, uncover real value and focus on well-being beyond sick care.