We have all read articles about how out-of-pocket costs will be the turning point for “consumerism” to become a real movement in healthcare. Makes sense…the more people have to pay from their own pockets, the more they will push for price transparency and prompt them to “shop” for choice when not dealing with an emergency. Consistently, they will push for quality transparency and they will push for better, easier, more convenient access and service. They will push to drive improvements in the system.
It wasn’t long ago that many of us in the hospital industry were demonically preparing for Y2K. Hospitals made multimillion dollar investments to secure Y2K compliance for software, equipment and technology-based infrastructure. Many of us spent New Year’s Eve at the hospital counting down the seconds for a new century to start “just-in-case”. As an industry, we admirably reacted to a specific “crisis” that we expected. It is, and has always been, one of our industry’s strengths: to act when an urgent situation is upon us. All the preparations and investments we made paid off as for the majority of us the lights didn’t blink, the multitude of systems didn’t stop working…in fact, it was business as usual.
Healthcare organizations can no longer focus on single-strategies. They also can no longer avoid competing on multiple fronts with what’s quickly becoming a crowded market of non-traditional healthcare providers. The lines between insurers, retailers and traditional providers are becoming less clear than ever before. Buyers and consumers are significantly more involved in their own healthcare and promise to become even more so in the near future. Health Systems and Health Provider Consortiums continue to form and grow across large geographic footprints.
There is a tremendous “tide of change” evolving across the entire healthcare environment. Scientific, technological and potentially disruptive vertical integrations such as that of CVS/Aetna or United Health-Optum/DaVita Medical Group, Apple and its PHR aspirations, IBM Watson Health – Cognitive Healthcare Solutions, the recent announcement of the Amazon/Berkshire/JP Morgan partnership for a new healthcare company are just the beginning.