How has COVID-19 Altered our Path to the Future of Health? | Deloitte US has been saved
By Neal Batra, principal, and David Betts, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
Is the COVID-19 pandemic pushing us closer to the future of health, or is it pulling us back? We would argue that it’s a little of both. In some respects, the pandemic is causing the health sector to leap one or two innovation cycles ahead in a remarkably short amount of time. But in other areas, forward momentum has stalled or stopped completely.
The public health emergency is highlighting some of the weaknesses in the health system, pushing capacity to the brink, and testing the very definition of wellness. Over the past several months, consumers have come to understand that the idea of being healthy goes beyond avoiding a COVID-19 infection. The lock-down most of us are enduring has made it clear that our mental well-being is just as important as our physical health. Moreover, trust in the health system has been diminished in the eye of the consumer. As economies begin to open, many people remain leery about going to a medical facility for care that had been deferred.
When we developed our vision for the future of health two years ago, we never anticipated the industry would follow a straight line to the year 2040. While the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t changed the world we described, it has altered the path that will likely take us there.
Consumers are moving to the center of the health system
In the US—and around the world—health systems were designed to respond to physical ailments. But treating illnesses and injuries should be secondary to helping people improve or maintain their well-being. When you talk to consumers, it becomes clear they tend to view health as broader, deeper, and more holistic. It includes physical and mental health—in addition to social, emotional, spiritual, and even financial health.
The pandemic has amplified consumer expectations for the health system. Consumers want to engage with the health system differently than they have in the past. As consumers continue to move toward the center of the health care system, they are starting to ask themselves two important questions:
Here’s a look at five other issues the pandemic could accelerate or decelerate:
Over the past several months, the pandemic allowed us to pressure-test our vision for the future of health. It holds up remarkably well. While the path might have changed, our expected destination remains the same. Our health care system has changed little over the past 50 years, and the pandemic is revealing that the cracks in the system run deeper than we thought.
It seems to us that the traditional health care business models are on their way out, spurred by empowered consumers who will reward companies that keep them healthy. Incumbent players in the health care system should shift to a business model driven by data, analytics, and advanced technologies (e.g., artificial intelligence, interoperability, cloud, etc.). It will likely become increasingly difficult for analog businesses to thrive in a digital world. The pandemic has offered a glimmer of the winning models, and those are all empowered by advanced technologies. Our advice: Get in the technology game now!
Neal is a principal in Deloitte’s Life Sciences and Health Care industry and heads Deloitte’s market-leading Future of Health™ practice, which focuses on business model and operating model innovation, re-design, and transformation. Neal’s work puts into practice the award-winning ideas that anchor the bold and visionary Future of Health point-of-view that he co-authored in 2018. Neal has more than 20 years of experience advising health organizations on critical strategic challenges, serving clients across the ecosystem, including biotech, medtech, health insurers, hospitals, and health retailers. He is also the Lead Alliance partner for Deloitte’s global relationship with the world-class, Israel-based hospital Sheba Tel Hashomer, a partnership focusing on helping provider systems and governments replicate the success of Sheba’s Tel Aviv-based health innovation ecosystem. Neal lives in New York City and holds an MBA from London Business School and a BBA from the College of William and Mary.