Emergencies naturally draw attention and resources, and the current COVID-19 crisis is no exception. As the pandemic continues to disrupt lives, business leaders are consuming as much information as possible to successfully steer their organizations through this uncertain territory. The problems exposed point to several broken aspects of the legacy healthcare system, particularly disconnected technology initiatives but it is also helping employers spur change.
They continue to assess the pandemic’s impact and understand the urgent need to shift toward stronger employee engagement and better use of digital health technologies. This vision requires significant transformation by several incumbents - healthcare providers, employers, life sciences organizations, and consumer-focused healthcare data platforms.
Before we discuss how improving care will be one of the main features of the future of health, let’s take a look at how this pandemic is speeding up healthcare’s transformation:
The pandemic has shown the inefficiencies in current workflows. For example, limited access to accurate data from multiple sources restricted efficient and cost-effective care. Despite the added burden, many hospital leaders were still using dated technologies such as faxes to communicate with physicians and other hospitals.
The broken aspects of the current healthcare system have also revealed numerous opportunities to develop a more resilient system, particularly in areas such as collaboration, care delivery, and affordability. Many employers understand the implications of these broken aspects and want to explore innovative ways to deliver better employee care.
Employers realize that to deliver highly-personalized experiences, they require deep, actionable insights through the adoption of advanced digital technologies. And, many agree that this pandemic has expedited broad-based adoption of data and technology. Adoption of virtual health tools, for example, which otherwise might have taken years to reach current levels, has accelerated rapidly.
Technologies such as digital assistants are likely to become commonplace in internal processes and care support. Many in the industry agree that the only way forward is to focus more on how to deliver care and products and services to more people at a much lower price point, so it is more accessible and better from a value perspective.
Now that we know how the current crisis is likely to speed up the industry’s transformation, let’s take a look at what transformative solutions are being built around:
Healthcare technology innovators are building solutions that help increase access and convenience. For instance, they are developing robust financial tools and partnering with benefits consultants to deliver affordable financing options to employers.
In cases where some consumers are struggling to pay their personal health care bills due to the COVID-19 crisis, innovators are partnering closely with health systems and insurance companies to offer consumers lower interest rates and longer repayment time for their out-of-pocket expenses.
These digital health offerings aim to increase access to high-quality care by reducing financial barriers and healthcare navigation hurdles. They also ease physicians’ jobs by automating time-consuming but important tasks such as ordering medication, adding diagnoses codes in the documentation, and populating billing templates.
The innovators are partnering closely with incumbents to gather data, clean it, and create an infrastructure that can help incumbents and consumers make better health decisions at a lower cost.
For example, they are creating platforms that make it easier to connect employees to physicians, including specialists. With unprecedented opportunities for employers to establish clear expectations for high-quality and low-cost care, they should seek and negotiate for healthcare solutions with the same rigor as their business needs.
By partnering with healthcare solutions that emphasize digital engagement, employers can implement a thoughtful approach that helps employees stay motivated while managing healthcare costs.
As employers and consumers become more involved in their healthcare choices, it is imperative for the industry to create a more seamless experience. It begins with collecting data and seeking transparency at each stage of decision-making. Consumers had to deal with a lack of transparency in healthcare - about healthcare costs as well as the value of services in improving their health.
Without that information, they have had difficulty making informed decisions. The result is a waste of time and money, and more importantly, worse health outcomes. However, with the dissemination of data and more exposure to out-of-pocket spending, consumers are demanding more transparency.
Employers need to make it a priority to understand the healthcare benefits landscape. Forming alliances with benefits consultants can help them expand the scale of their data and improve their purchasing power for healthcare.
Current healthcare arrangements have focused primarily on cost reduction as a measure of success, not enhancing the quality of life. As care models mature, all stakeholders, including providers, employers, and consumers will demand higher quality and efficiency.
COVID-19 has brought an opportunity for employers to partner with the health systems to leverage technology, data, and information. Amid a growing marketplace of digital health innovations, choosing health plans that improve the member experience and ensure access can help maximize clinical outcomes and business value. To learn how an FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform can drive positive change in healthcare delivery, click here.