With quality, outcomes, and value being the watchwords for health care in the 21st century, sector stakeholders around the globe are looking for innovative and cost-effective ways to deliver patient-centered, technology-enabled “smart” health care, both inside and outside hospital walls.
Creating a positive margin in an uncertain and changing health economy
Public and private health systems have been facing revenue pressures and declining margins for years. The trend is expected to persist as increasing demand, infrastructure upgrades, and therapeutic and technology advancements strain the already limited financial resources. As a result, spending is expected to be driven by aging and growing populations, developing market expansion, clinical and technology advances, and rising labor costs. As health care costs increase though, affordability and insurance coverage remain problematic. Health care providers are also collaborating to gain competitive advantage.
Strategically moving from volume to value
The health care industry is participating in risk-bearing, coordinated care models and continues to move away from the traditional fee-for-service (FFS) system. Stakeholders are moving from volume to value through reform policies, programs promoting operational efficiency, technology use, population health management, wellness, and addressing the social determinants of health.
Responding to health policy and complex regulations
Health systems worldwide share overarching health policy and regulatory goals – ensuring quality care and patient safety, mitigating fraud and cyber threats. Digital health care technology solutions addressing better diagnostics and more personalized therapeutic tools are leading to the challenge of data protection.
The trends in data management and security include cognitive computing, cloud-based, interoperable electronic health records, and Internet of Things (IoT). Cybersecurity and data risk management continue to be front and center, especially with patients taking a more active control of their health, and wanting access and reliability to their data.
Investing in exponential technologies to reduce costs, increase access, and improve care
Exponential technologies are driving less expensive, more efficient, and more accessible care delivery on a global scale. A few trends which impact care delivery are:
- Exponentials will reshape health care by impacting areas such as synthetic biology, 3D printing and nanotechnology, and companion diagnostics amongst others.
- Hospitals of the future are being built through redefined care delivery, digital and AI technologies, and enhanced talent development.
As individual exponentials combine with others, the convergences push technology ahead even more quickly. Among areas where exponentials are beginning to help reshape health care:
Synthetic biology. Synthetic biology (an interdisciplinary branch of biology and engineering) and the ability to create DNA, genomics, and proteomics are advancing rapidly. Applications for life sciences companies are phenomenal, particularly when considering how these technologies could be combined with cognitive computing, AI, and others.
3D printing and nanotechnology. Once scientists understand DNA sequencing at a detailed level, it reaches a point where they can print actual tissue – there are people today who have at least one ear that was printed. Through nanotechnology, innovators could develop a customized white blood cell that is specifically designed to hunt down and attack cancer cells at a molecular level.
Companion diagnostics. When paired with targeted therapies, companion diagnostics (an in-vitro diagnostic device or an imaging tool that provides information that is essential for the safe and effective use of a corresponding therapeutic product), can help physicians to select an optimal treatment the first time, avoiding the costly and risky practice of trial-and-error prescribing.
Biosensors and trackers. Biosensors included in rapidly shrinking wearables and medical devices allow consumers and clinicians to monitor and track more aspects of patients’ health, enabling earlier intervention – and even prevention – in a way that is much less intrusive to patients’ lives.
Engaging with consumers and improving the patient experience
Hospitals can provide more personalized care through better engagement with consumers and elevate patient experience by using digital solutions to aid omni-channel patient access, including customer apps, patient portals, personalized digital information kits, and self-check-in kiosks. Other digital channels, and tools to enhance provider-consumer interactions include:
- Leveraging social media to improve patient experience
- Virtual reality/augmented reality
Shaping the workforce of the future
Workforce challenges in the health care industry, such as staffing shortages in hospital specialties and nursing shortages are evident across the globe. Compounding the problem is a scarcity of next-generation skills to guide and support the transformation to becoming patient-centric, insight-driven, and value-focused organizations. When planning for the future of work, health care organizations will need to assess the physical proximity, automation level, and talent category.
Click here to download the report “2018 Global health care outlook” by Deloitte.