Three emerging trends shaping the future of healthcare

May 16, 2018
Colin Deval Senior Communications Strategist

Stay ahead of trends in technology that impact business and patient experience.

There’s no doubt the financial, regulatory and traditional approaches to care that make up the support structures of healthcare in America today are in flux. Costs spiral. Technology revolutionizes treatment and payment. Digital communications and personalization changes the way we market. Legislation drives dramatic changes in the delivery of care.

In healthcare, change is inevitable.

Within that field of change, there are trends, opportunities for health systems, providers, insurers and business-to-business innovators to lead the market to solutions that serve people. It’s up to leaders to find them and bring those solutions to bear on a market that is ready for revolution.

Solutions that can make things better for people and be adopted to build business.

At Core Creative, we stay current by pursuing information directly from those driving change and innovation in their markets. It helps us learn how business is finding new solutions for consumers, and it helps sharpen our perspective when we serve our clients.

Recently, we invited Eric Haberichter, president of Access HealthNet, to speak with us. His company is poised to revolutionize how patients purchase healthcare.

Access HealthNet provides a technology platform that enables providers to name their own price for shoppable medical procedures. Consumers can search for bundled episodes of care and understand the price upfront. They can easily compare prices and choose a high-quality provider. And, ultimately, they can save money by finding provider prices that can be up to 80 percent lower than PPO rates.

The company is finding it can slow an employer’s total medical spend by 7 – 13 percent and that of employees by more than 40 percent. That’s an impact worth paying attention to.

Access HealthNet builds a direct connection between patients who need care and providers who are able to provide it. It gives people control of their healthcare spend. This service can upend traditional payment structures for patients and employers who sponsor a healthcare plan option for their employees.

From speaking with Haberichter, we learned Access HealthNet is a result of that tumultuous landscape of constant change in healthcare. It’s also the result of a team of leaders, made up of healthcare providers and network insiders, who recognized the opportunity to meet a trend and make things better for people and business.

In our discussion, he laid out three trends shaping healthcare. These trends are opening opportunities for MedTech revolutionaries to bloom or for health systems to take advantage by operationalizing and communicating the differences they may offer.

If your health system is looking for ways to build convenience, empower patients or drive loyalty, partnering with leaders in these spaces may help you meet your goals.

If you’re a MedTech innovator, how does your company fit into these trends? How do you identify your target and market yourself? How do you drill your message down to a “why” that connects with the mind and the heart in a way that jars people to notice, remember you and take action?

Haberichter encouraged us to think about these three emerging trends in healthcare and what they mean for your business and its marketing challenges.

 

  1. Consolidation

Look at the news. Providers are taking on insurance. Insurers are taking on providers. Systems are acquiring systems. The market is forcing this action. Sometimes, it’s being done to serve patients and deliver better care. Sometimes, the market is forcing business decisions that make it harder for patients in rural areas to get access to care or for people in poorer communities to be able to plan for and take advantage of the care they need.

While these consolidations may be driven by business decisions or market forces, they do present opportunities for organizations to consider how they are positioning themselves to communicate with and serve their audiences. Maybe you’ve positioned your health system as patient intimate, innovative or operationally excellent. Does consolidation – recent or pending – in your market or for your own business change that?

Consolidation may also open opportunities to communicate with your audience in different ways or to serve businesses in healthcare in ways that are vital to them. The big may get bigger, but that message still needs to reach patients who need care.

 

  1. Retailization

The days of gatekeepers to care, interference in the experience that could make health more shoppable for patients, may be ending more quickly than we realize. As with so many things, technology is a driving force.

Skipping the gatekeepers, technological innovations are taking the purchase experience directly to patients. That means research, comparison, and peer-to-peer reviews and recommendations, all things that help people understand what they are buying so they can make an informed choice. Healthcare consumers aren’t just moving through the system and trusting what they buy. Nor should they.

Health systems or businesses serving healthcare should be prepared to adopt technology that comes out of the trend of retailization. They should also be prepared to communicate more directly and fluidly with their constituents so those future patients are able to research, learn and feel empowered to make choices that will improve their health. When taken advantage of, creating content and digital experiences that educates patients and provides opportunities for them to find more shoppable routes to their healthcare can be a win-win for healthcare providers. You just have to recognize it and capitalize on it. That is, if you’re using a form of retailization to make healthcare more convenient for people … market it!

 

  1. Automation

Technology is driving automation in healthcare. The new generation will not “call the doctor” when they’re not feeling well. They won’t wait weeks or even months for an appointment. Yes, there will be future-forward technological breakthroughs that will read our temperature when we look in the mirror in the morning or check our vitals when we use a toilet, but today, technology is driving automation that is actually revolutionizing the patient experience right now. Automation can streamline care and give leaders opportunities to “apply true business principles,” as Haberichter says, “and apply them to healthcare.

  • Internal process integration that drives identification of how to serve patients, or impact billing and payment structures.
  • Artificial intelligence and machine learning that catalogs and delivers symptoms, treatments and an understanding of the best path to care … while cutting wait times for suffering patients.
  • Chatbots for triage that ease the burden on patients and nurses, reduce paperwork or help patients who just want to know what to do for a set of common symptoms instead of staggering into an emergency room or urgent care facility, taking time, money and personnel resources away from those in need.

 

Understanding these trends changes how we identify and communicate true differentiators for consumers of healthcare services. Adopting change makers and trendsetters at a system-wide level and communicating the advantages for healthcare consumers can dramatically transform the perception people have of healthcare providers.

Innovation in the delivery and experience of care will transform accessibility and drive patient loyalty.

Are you doing enough to earn it?

Are you communicating those differences?

That is how you take advantage of these emerging trends in healthcare.

 

Colin Deval is a Senior Communications Strategist at Core Creative, a branding agency that specializes in telling the life-changing stories for mid-market healthcare systems and the emerging med-tech world. 

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