In his keynote session at the DreamIt conference in Tampa, November 6, 2018, Sumit Kimar Nagpal, global lead of digital health strategy at Accenture, says the future of healthcare is about a few simple things: Keeping people safe, providing for their well-being and improving care via information and technology.
Sounds simple, but guess what? Traditional players in healthcare are simply not ready, he said. Before explaining why, he painted a portrait of the current landscape and what he expects to come.
First, the current marketplace is all about cost then “innovation,” “agility,” “convenience,” and even the supposed “patient experience.” Cost, however, is likely the single most important issue in healthcare, he said, citing its 18 percent of the US GDP. There a lot of talk about convenience and collaboration, but what’s the outcomes? he asked.
Cost is the biggest driver. It’s a “cost takeout” marketplace, which is dominated by back office optimization. In other words, reduce costs through back office efficiency controls and strategies to save health systems money.
However, there are three important mega trends in healthcare related to the individual consumer. We are aging as a population; we are living longer; and we are facing more long-term conditions. All of this is surrounded by consumerism or the consumer experience and what that means to their health.
Another major transformation is that care is shifting in its location. There is a shift of care to the retail setting, for example, out of the four walls traditionally known in healthcare, for earlier engagement of care in the areas where people live, work and play. This even means that experiences are moving online, into the home and into the community setting.
Those who give us care is changing, too, he said. We’re used to seeing a doctor or a family care provider in an office at a practice, but that is quickly shifting. Care teams are extending well beyond the doctor into retail pharmacists, friends and family, teleconsultations, visiting nurses and social workers and “Dr. AI” and “Dr. Google.
“We’re building a very different relationship with technology to help us decide what’s next and what we have as a condition. This is all about taking down the silos and the four walls, and includes deep, mass personalization,” he said.
As opportunities open up, as walls are torn down and drivers of cost are addressed early and proactively, growth-led convergence is the result. The outcomes?
- Health systems are becoming drug companies
- Insurance companies are becoming healthcare providers
- Providers are becoming insurers
- Pharmacy companies are becoming software companies
- Medical device companies are becoming service companies
- Retail companies are becoming medical device companies
- Retail pharmacies are becoming health insurance companies
- Retail pharmacies are becoming healthcare providers
- Tech companies are becoming healthcare companies
Are there winners and losers? Certainly. Nagpal says the losers will be:
- Old-school providers in the silos
- Old-school payers, and
- Old-school tech
The winners will be:
- Retail players moving into the healthcare space
- Pharmacy companies responding to consumer need
- Big, new tech solving new problems and that are willing to innovate
- Chronic care solution providers
- Logistical planners, and
- Some device makers
As expected, consumers will be at the center of these changes, of course, along with their data being the primary driver. Legacy health IT will still exist, but will likely will be seen as antiquated, a CRM of the healthcare industry, he said. Further innovation will shift care outside the traditional four walls, and driven by at-scale players who will enable disruptive startups to continue disrupting. These at-scale players will not wait for payment models and business rational to build the highways. They will build their own infrastructure to move innovation forward unlike previous ventures that built upon infrastructure already in place.
Additionally, players that can scale will create innovation at an unprecedented pace, giving startups depth and scale unlikely seen before. So being, healthcare will fundamentally transform to meet consumers on their own, where they are in their lives at any given point.