What You Should Know About The Shift To Consumer-Driven Healthcare
By Megan Williams, contributing writer
A survey released by PricewaterhouseCoopers examines the shift in the healthcare industry from one of traditional offerings to one of more convenient and affordable options and also looks at consumers’ reactions to the change. The 19-page report contains a discussion of market opportunities, new entrants, two case studies addressing the democratization of care, and a third study on Wal-Mart’s activity in the industry, as well as a review of sector growth potential and insight into the impact on individual businesses.
The core point of the report is that the $2.8 trillion dollar healthcare industry in the U.S. is going through a shift, and that that shift is moving power from institutions and businesses to consumers. The report states that 64 percent of respondents were open to new methods of accessing their healthcare, if the price were within the right range. While larger and more established entities are tending to struggle with the adjustment, the change holds definite and substantial opportunity for businesses and organizations that are willing to tune in. Some highlights of those changes that may be of interest to VARs are:
- Patients are favoring at-home care on multiple fronts.
- Drugstores are emerging as new and innovative centers of care.
- $64 billion in traditional provider revenue is under threat.
- Being able to access care anywhere is a primary driver in the industry shift.
What It Means For Your Business
The study provides useful information about the healthcare industry in general, but for solution providers, it offers a few key points specific to adjusting your thinking to align with changes in the industry and properly understanding the challenges your clients deal with.
- Flexibility. The study recommends that all entities develop strategies for both fee-for-service medicine and value-based business models. It recommends this be done through the use of customer data — an area in which solutions providers are especially well equipped to provide guidance.
- Early Risk Management. This is an area that is specific to healthcare. While jumping the gun a bit on local ordinances worked out well for a company like Airbnb, the company 23andMe, which fits more closely within the walls of health and healthcare, received a warning from the FDA because of lack of communication with consumers. Healthcare has unmatched levels of regulation and monitoring, and your clients likely can benefit from guidance in navigating those waters.
- Positive Partnerships. As the industry shifts, healthcare entities will need increasingly deep inside knowledge of the system, especially around technology. The report encourages strategic partnerships with new entrants, but this is also an area where solutions providers can demonstrate tangible value for existing healthcare entities looking to innovate.
- Tapping Into Cyberspace. The report also makes a point of focusing on smartphones and mobile devices as new points of access in healthcare — going as far as setting a goal of creating environments similar in ease and affordability to that of online shopping for travel and entertainment (43 percent of respondents said they preferred using an online healthcare shopping portal to more traditional options.) While providers investigate new value propositions, solutions providers with expertise in EHR, cloud computing, and other technologies around healthcare will find definite opportunities for new business.
- Integration. As new entrants run to the growing market, integration, especially of sensitive and complex healthcare data, will become a top priority. Retail clinics are already catching heat for their lack of integration with the rest of the healthcare system, and customers have been slow to adopt universally-accessible personal health records. These gaps mean opportunity for savvy solutions providers.
The predictions of dramatic change in healthcare are nothing new, but this time, the industry finally appears to be ready. There is no doubt that prepared solutions providers will be able to both benefit from, and help usher in these important changes in healthcare if they stay on top of developments in the industry.