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5 Emerging Trends Poised to Disrupt Healthcare

The seventh annual Healthcare Advisory Council Conference set the stage for how technology is transforming healthcare—from operations to clinical care.

With tech innovation upending industries from transportation to banking, it’s no surprise that healthcare is also on the precipice of a great change as organizations reevaluate clinical care, operations and ROI.  

During the seventh annual Healthcare Advisory Council Conference, industry leaders and CFOs explored the role of technology in ushering in a new future for healthcare—and, perhaps more importantly, strategies to combat the hidden challenges that often accompany great waves of change.

Read on for five emerging healthcare trends.


Trend No. 1: Buy, Build or Partner to Advance Tech Transformation

Healthcare organizations are partnering with tech startups focused on artificial intelligence and machine learning to transform the provider ecosystem—powering new ways to manage clinical care and electronic health records.

For example, OhioHealth is working with Olive, a software robot that can log into any system and do the work that a human can do. Olive evaluates systems and processes and develops recommendations for improvement. In some cases at OhioHealth, the procedure is adopted, creating a cycle of testing.

According to Andy Lozier, Head of New Ventures and Business Incubation at Ohio Health, it’s critical to evaluate whether a capability can be built in house or be outsourced. Partnerships can offer more exclusivity and security than purchasing an innovation.

“You have to be willing to work with them as they are tripping and as they are succeeding,” Lozier said.


Trend No. 2: Adopting Organizational Speed and Agility for Innovation

For health systems to make significant leaps in innovation, they need to take a faster approach to both decision-making and contracting when bringing on technology partners for non-core competencies.

Timeliness is everything for young, fast-growing tech companies. However, contracts with health systems can take months—if not years—to execute. Even after both entities have invested significant time and energy on an agreement, finalizing it can stall in periods of radio silence. Dedicating a task force to execute contracts can help healthcare companies move with greater speed.


Trend No. 3: Using Big Data to Improve Results and Outcomes

With providers determining 80 percent of system spend, health systems are looking at ways to reduce clinical costs while improving results and outcomes. To do this effectively, physicians are seeking out ways to have more clinical data at their fingertips while treating patients.

Health systems are also exploring ways to reduce clinical inefficiencies and redefine care through voice applications, monitoring devices and other technologies. Physicians now have a physical, episodic relationship with their patients, but telemedicine offers virtual, ongoing communication that could help them identify medical issues sooner and more efficiently.


Trend No. 4: Bending the Curve on Pharmaceutical Costs

Public and private organizations are taking action to curb rising pharmaceutical costs related to manufacturing and distribution. To innovate the pharma business model, some providers are managing costs by reducing expenses within the supply chain, while others are leveraging advanced analytics to steer patients toward less costly options.

Health systems investing in the 340b Drug Pricing Program should invest in specialty pharma to avoid a lost margin of 15 percent. Since pharma is integrated into the total cost of care for a patient, health systems could see a minimum 2.8 percent improvement within their margin by controlling pharma. For example, Cleveland Clinic saved a total $33 million—a cost of $28 per member, per month—by removing the middle man from their pharma supply chain. By controlling pharma manufacturing and distribution, providers will be better positioned to curb costs while mitigating the risks of the phase out of the 340b Drug Pricing Program in the next three to five years.


Trend No. 5: Measuring Social Determinants of Health’s ROI

Providers are integrating social determinants of health into operating workflow and patient care to improve overall health and affordability for communities.


Zip codes can be a bigger determinant of health and life outcomes than genetic code. By meeting social needs short term, providers can reduce admissions and emergency department use. Some have even created a closed-loop network with a free clinic while also providing resources and doctors to help those in need.

The three-pronged approach can translate to a significant reduction of readmission rates for providers leading to short- and long-term ROI. And while this may seem like a large undertaking, Kaiser Permanente, for instance, began small to understand the homeless issue in California before going across all of its eight regions.


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