The Accountable Care Act (ACA) or Obamacare as it is popularly known may be a source of political divisiveness in the US, but I am more interested in how the reforms under the act will shape the healthcare landscape, and more importantly, how it will impact the patients.
There are also several factors significantly affecting the healthcare space today. According to some sources, healthcare costs in the US are growing at an annual average rate of 5.8 percent and are expected to continue to do so through this decade with spending expected to hit the $4.6 trillion mark in 2020. Also, in 2020, one out of every 5 US citizens will be above 65 years, which will mean high prevalence of chronic diseases. And while costs and disease occurrence rise, the alarming bit is that primary care physicians will be in short supply. In 2015, the anticipated shortfall is 29,800 and by 2020, this number is expected to shoot up to 45,000!
What should key stakeholders across the healthcare value chain do in this situation? I think they need to look at new business models, new incentives, and accelerated use of Healthcare Information Technology(HIT) to provide patient centric solutions and help shift the epicenter from providers to customer. They should set up an integrated delivery network to deliver more while lowering cost, increasing access, improving quality and providing support to patients in self-management of the disease.
I already see a lot of new relationships building between participants in the healthcare ecosystem, some of them unconventional. For instance, I’ve come across partnerships between physicians and health plans, physicians and hospitals, hospitals and wellness centers, retail pharmacies and disease management companies, health care technology service providers and alternative health providers. And I can already see glimpses of the benefits of this integration, in the form of increased loyalty of customers, increased adherence and new sources of income.
However, many pharma company executives tell me that they fail to understand how to react to the undulations in the healthcare space. My advice to them is to take “Total Leadership” – shift effectively from the traditional pharmaceutical business model to one that meets market needs, providing high quality health care and incorporating innovation to provide more with reduced costs.
Meanwhile I find providers looking at patient centricity for better insights into patient needs, increased adherence, improved physician-hospital integration, and increased engagement. I have also been keen to know consumer expectations from technology and have found what they want: a “high-tech, high-touch” system, one that allows them to self-monitor, interact with doctors, and adhere to treatment.
How do you think HIT focusing on patient centricity can meet these needs? Can you think of other ways in which technology can impact patients? I would love to hear your views.