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Healthcare organizations face no shortage of challenges, from margin pressures and workforce shortages to complicated tech and regulatory mazes. But the industry’s finance and operations leaders remain focused on securing the talent, tools and relationships they’ll need to keep advancing care for the communities they serve.

Leaders from across the U.S. gathered at J.P. Morgan’s 11th annual Healthcare Advisory Council (HCAC) in October, where they explored several emerging approaches to managing costs, investing in organizational innovation and ensuring patients’ needs come first. Here are a few key takeaways from the day’s conversations:

Experience is everything

That is, the customer or patient experience. In a healthcare market increasingly driven by consumerism, healthcare organizations and tech companies keenly understand that every aspect of a patient’s interaction with the system—online and in-person, from booking to billing—needs to be customer-friendly and as frictionless as possible. Patients direct their dollars where processes are convenient and where there’s a sense of trust.

Across the industry, tools and platforms continue to emerge so that patients can easily access records, schedule appointments, check in at visits and chat with providers. Leaders emphasized convenience and transparency as vital for patients’ trust and loyalty.

Mike Browning, Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for OhioHealth, said customer service is one of his organization’s main initiatives. He cited an example of a team of navigators assisting patients in oncology departments. “If you have a patient with cancer, and they deal with the navigator, it’s a wonderful tool to figure out how to work the system,” he said. “We need to figure out as an industry how to do that for all our service offerings to make sure that it’s easy for patients.”  

Other takeaways on the patient experience include:

  • Well-recognized digital payment options such as Apple Pay and QR code enrollment are helping facilitate point-of-service interactions.
  • Patients increasingly expect price transparency and clearer billing estimates so they can understand their obligations ahead of receiving care.
  • Patients evaluate quality of case based on access and ease of navigation; they don’t consider the “insider” metrics such as hospital-acquired infection rates.

Connectivity drives quality

Across the healthcare space, leaders consistently said that more proactive collaboration between providers—and other health and wellness stakeholders—leads to better health outcomes, often at lower costs. In an evolving landscape, leaders at HCAC emphasized a balance between pragmatism and openness to creativity.

Leaders on our panels highlighted how they are integrating preventative care into as many contact points as possible: 

  • Medical practices leave open time slots to conduct mammograms during patients’ other office visits.
  • Programs for seniors proactively teach fall prevention rather than waiting to treat broken bones.
  • Digital monitoring tools help providers tend to patients’ chronic conditions while at home.

AI is already affecting healthcare

With large language models like ChatGPT captivating the world in 2023, many in the industry are looking to the future and how artificial intelligence can transform the way healthcare is delivered. But AI and machine learning are just the next step in a long-running trend toward automation in healthcare.

Maneesh Goyal, COO of the Mayo Clinic Platform at Mayo Clinic, emphasized that new technology may change the way health organizations take on problems, but it won’t offer shortcuts. 

“AI is not software; software is not a solution; solutions aren’t business models,” Goyal said. “You have to ask yourself why you’re implementing a project and make sure the context of why you’re doing it is then attached to the tool, whether it’s AI or not. And you have to follow through the change management processes to reap the full benefit.”

Other AI insights include: 

  • AI is already used in areas such as clinical documentation and utilization review.
  • In a scarce labor market, AI and machine learning can supplement human capital by helping staff prioritize their time.
  • AI’s strength is in probabilistic reasoning, not deterministic. It doesn’t learn or provide clinical knowledge, but it can help sift through massive amounts of data to help drive clinical decision-making.

We’re here to help

J.P. Morgan has years of experience in the healthcare sector, and we can help you navigate the shifting business landscape. Contact one of our bankers to learn more.

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