Healthcare decision makers unequivocally agree that the way providers deliver care is rapidly shifting, and so is the manner in which patients engage with their health. These changes are driven by cost pressures, evolving consumer expectations and the fast pace of technology innovation.
Glen Tullman — CEO of care navigation company Transcarent, as well as former CEO of Allscripts and Livongo — discussed what he thinks the future of healthcare will look like during a presentation on Tuesday at the HIMSS conference in Chicago. He laid out five predictions.
“Consumers are in charge.”
The industry needs to understand that patients have choices when it comes to what kind of healthcare they want and how they want it delivered, Tullman pointed out. This isn’t always the case — in emergencies, sometimes the only choice is to call an ambulance. But for things like primary care, prescriptions and mental health services, healthcare consumers face an array of options.
“Our task as an industry is to build a new and different relationship with these health consumers. And not just by treating patients with compassion — that’s not enough anymore. It’s really focusing on caring for them as consumers. That’s where we need to get,” Tullman declared.
He called on healthcare companies to empower their consumers “in the way that we empower every other aspect of our economy.”
“AI will inform the experience.”
Any wariness that healthcare organizations had concerning AI is quickly vanishing, Tullman said. AI’s benefits are so crucial that healthcare stakeholders have no choice than to go all-in on the technology, he argued.
For starters, Tullman pointed out that AI can eliminate the vast amounts of paperwork and clinical documentation challenges plaguing the healthcare field. AI can also perform analytics to optimize staffing levels during the workforce crisis, and it can improve care by allowing real-time data to influence clinicians’ decisions, he explained.
“Care will happen in 60 seconds.”
Calling your doctor’s receptionist to schedule an in-person appointment was the go-to method for seeking care for many years, but the industry has evolved past this and realized it’s not a very good way to meet patients’ needs, Tullman argued.
As the world moves increasingly toward on-demand services like Uber and DoorDash, patients want their health concerns addressed quickly and conveniently as well. This is especially true for patients with chronic conditions that have the potential to become dangerous at any moment, such as diabetes or asthma, Tullman pointed out.
If patients don’t have access to care that is on-demand and convenient, three things could happen, and none of them are desired outcomes, Tullman explained. Patients will either avoid care, wait until their condition is so serious that their healthcare costs become much higher, or make a trip to the emergency department.
“Health systems will be the hub…maybe.”
Health systems have historically been major hubs for patient care. Tullman doesn’t think that will change, but he does think the role of the health system will evolve in the near future.
“My message to you as a health system is really simple. And that is you need to own the relationship — you need to own the health consumer experience,” he declared. “The good news is that in most of your markets, you’re well-known, you’re local and you’re trusted. But the challenge still remains that you have to communicate that message to health consumers who are making decisions every day.”
In order to keep up, health systems will need to change their payment model, Tullman argued. Healthcare is the only industry where consumers don’t know what they owe until months after they receive the service, he pointed out.
“At risk is no risk.”
Tullman called on health systems to “lead the way” to value-based care. He argued that health systems are the best-suited entities to determine how cost measures up with care quality and what appropriate care plans should look like.
“[Health systems] have to drive that. This only works if [they’re] willing to drive it, because if somebody else drives it, then somebody else will own it,” Tullman said.
Photo: Feodora Chiosea, Getty Images