When we talk about healthcare transformation, many casual observers think that transformation is only related to the major Federal government mandates of the last several years, either the Affordable Care Act, and more specifically the insurance marketplace, or the Hitech Act and Meaningful Use. Others look at the consumer mobility revolution with its potential to change the patient-provider relationship and see that as the key transformer in healthcare. Others look at the genomics revolution or Watson and the rise of the “smart machines” as the major game changers.
Of course the reality is that all of these changes and other areas are combining to create a future healthcare sector that will be vastly different than the healthcare world of today. While technology innovation and appropriate government regulatory changes are critical to providing more effective and cost-efficient healthcare, those alone will not enable us to reach the promise of a better healthcare sector. What I feel will be the most important criteria for success will be having all parts of the ecosystem working in harmony and understanding toward meeting common goals. The alternative scenario will be more chaos and additional inefficiencies created even with new technologies and different business models. While this may sound somewhat utopian, what is really needed to build a better healthcare system are policy makers who understand the implications of the technology innovations on their business models and technologists who can grasp the business pain points that Federal health agencies and other healthcare stakeholders face. When the intersection of business needs and technology innovation is worked properly, major positive change can occur in fairly rapid order.
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Because we now live in a hybrid chaotic healthcare environment, with vestiges of the old business models co-existing with new business models, the sooner that changes can be fully acted upon, the better conditions will be for all stakeholders. While there have been a number of promising efforts in payment reform, care management, and other critical areas, these fall far short of what will be needed to take full advantage of the new technologies and shifting healthcare landscape. The President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) released a new report last week (learn more) that called for accelerating changes in payment systems to become outcome-focused, increasing access to relevant health data and analytics, and leveraging system engineering approaches, which have been used successfully in other sectors, to improve healthcare. All of these are great recommendations but it is always easier to define the “what” than to achieve the “how”.
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Next week, Federal Computer Week and IBM will co-host a Federal Summit that will include a very exciting healthcare track. While this track will not even begin to answer the “how”, it will provide a sampling of the rich new ideas and technologies that are starting to transform Federal health and the healthcare industry. A combination of short discussions by industry thought leaders and some innovative demos will help spur additional conversation and thinking among the healthcare professionals and policymakers of all levels who will be attending the Summit. It is my hope that this Summit will be another point along the way of moving the healthcare industry to fully embrace what we like to call the “Art of the Possible.” As Gandhi once said, “You must be the change that you wish to see in the world.” In healthcare today, the only constant is change. Let’s use the Federal Summit and other key gatherings this year to move forward together and accelerate the changes needed to fully transform healthcare ecosystem in this country. Click to Retweet
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