By Steve Burrill, vice chairman, US health care leader, Deloitte LLP
Several of my Deloitte colleagues have escaped the recent sub-zero wind chills and are now in balmy Orlando for the annual HIMSS Global Conference & Exhibition. During sessions and panel discussions, they will lay out Deloitte’s vision for the future of health, which is our theme for this year’s conference. My colleagues will explain how big data can be combined with electronic health records (EHRs) to improve care quality and reduce the administrative burdens on clinicians. They will discuss the evolving partnerships between health plans and hospital systems, and they will explore ways real-world data could be used to keep people healthy and improve population health. All of these topics align with the transformation we are starting to see in health care.
The future of health that we envision is only about 20 years off, but health in 2040 will likely be a world away from what we have now. Based on emerging technology, we can be reasonably certain that digital transformation—enabled by radically interoperable data, artificial intelligence (AI), and open, secure platforms—will drive much of this change. Today’s siloed health care sectors will work more closely together to keep populations healthy, and empowered consumers will help to push this vision forward. Here’s a look at how we expect these forces will play out over the next 20 years:
- Radically interoperable data: Care coordination will become a central feature of new payment arrangements, according to Beyond the EHR—a new report from the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions that looks at technology-investment trends among hospitals. While 96 percent of hospitals have adopted electronic health records (EHRs), the shift to value-based payments will likely require integration across multiple platforms, according to the report. Google, for example, has created a cloud-based solution to tackle interoperability, which is often seen as one of the biggest challenges in health care.1 The technology will allow health care companies to manage data and perform analytics and machine learning using cloud technology.
- Wellness: By 2040 (and perhaps beginning significantly before), streams of health data—from a variety of sources—will merge to create a multi-faceted and highly personalized picture of every consumer’s wellbeing. Many of us already have wearable devices that track our steps, activity, and even our heart rates. In the future, data-gathering sensors will be so much a part of our lives that we probably won’t even notice them. Along with tracking our activity, devices of the future might also evaluate the impact the environment has on our health. While we will continue to rely on hospitals and clinicians, they will devote more of their time to keeping populations healthy. As a result, they won’t spend as much time on treating illness. Providers will need to find ways to decrease delivery costs to maintain margins. Strategies might include more remote and virtual health solutions, digitization, and advanced population management. Health plans will move beyond claims processing to focus on the wellbeing of members, according to our new report on the health plan of the future. We expect health plans will become data conveners, science and insight engines, and/or data and platform infrastructure builders. Health plans could become localized health hubs enabling the delivery of consumer-centric care models.
- Empowered consumers: Virtual interactions with patients rose from 56 percent of total interactions in 2015 to 59 percent in 2017, according to Beyond the EHR. This illustrates how we are transitioning from a business-to-business health care model to a consumer-to-business model. By 2040, the consumer—rather than health plans or clinicians—will determine when, where, and with whom care or wellness services are performed. Consumers will have access to data that details their physical, social, mental, emotional, and spiritual health. This information might be combined with other data sets and shared with physicians, health organizations, researchers, or product developers. But consumers will control how data are shared.
- Closer coordination between health plans and providers: Last September, we surveyed health care professionals from 300 primary and specialty care practices to find how receptive they were to working more closely with health plans. We identified five areas (i.e., care coordination, cost transparency, chronic care management, wellness and prevention, and practice performance) where health plans have capabilities or useful data. Many health care practitioners said they are receptive to solutions from health plans that can help improve patient experience and outcomes. Solutions that address unmet needs, complement existing capabilities, and provide insights that physician practices cannot get elsewhere could be well-received. Make sure you’re subscribed to receive our Deloitte health care content to read the full findings.
Along with enjoying some warm weather, I hope everyone who attends this year’s HIMSS conference will have a chance to hear Deloitte’s perspective on the future of health. By 2040, we envision an integrated system that keeps populations healthy and out of the hospital or doctor’s office. Radically interoperable data, empowered consumers, and greater coordination between all health care stakeholders could help us achieve this vision.
1. Gregory J. Moore MD, Ph.D., Google Cloud for Healthcare: new APIs, customers, partners and security updates, March 5, 2018.