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What Health Organizations Can Do Now to Prepare for a Patient-Focused Future

Doug Beaudoin, Chief Information Officer of Deloitte, leads all facets of technology for the nation’s largest professional services organization. He says healthcare as a whole has been moving toward a future that uses patient input and data to drive decision-making at all levels, and the events of 2020 just accelerated some of those innovations to the forefront.

“In 2020, we have seen seamless, personalized, integrated care experiences become mainstream in response to the COVID-19 pandemic,” Beaudoin said. “For health plans, hospitals, and health systems in 2021, these newly engaged digital consumers will likely have even greater influence in many aspects of the health ecosystem.”

As healthcare advances toward a more patient-focused and data-driven future, Beaudoin advises stakeholders to start doing some things now to prepare:

Build new businesses

As a focus on overall wellness will likely decrease the number of sick people, health organizations will need to alter their current business models to stay competitive.

“We expect consumers will be at the center of the health universe by 2040,” Beaudin said, which means there will have to be radical changes to the health supply chain, finance, data, and tools used to engage both patients and stakeholders.”

As the way the industry thinks about each of these areas changes, new business partnerships and opportunities will arise.

Forge partnerships

With open platforms and secure data moving to the center of our health system, new players will enter the fray and will be looking to experienced healthcare providers to help guide the gamechaning technology they deliver. Beaudoin says health organizations must embrace these partnerships if they want to stay relevant.

“Technology giants, start-ups, and other disruptors are new to the healthcare landscape but are incentivized to drive change,” Beaudoin said. “What they lack is health care expertise, regulatory expertise, a targeted consumer base, and existing partnerships with other incumbents.”

As Beaudin puts it, these “disruptors” are more likely to team up with providers that are willing to listen to progressive ideas and are seen as wanting to drive change.

Appeal to health consumers

Creating a healthcare system that is completely driven by the wants and needs of consumers will require providers to communicate with patients more than ever before. Beaudoin says the successful stakeholders will be the ones that generate actionable data from this engagement, use it to understand the ever-changing wants and needs of patients, and turn that understanding into policies and practices that appeal to these newly empowered health consumers. 

“Consumer attitudes and behaviors are malleable in the future of health,” he said. “Interoperable data, machine and deep learning capabilities, always-on biosensors, and behavioral research will allow for personalized and real-time, AI-driven behavioral interventions that shape consumer beliefs and actions.”

For health consumers, a streamlined and patient-focused system means it will be easier to access holistic care, Beaudoin says. As the field becomes less about just curing the sick and injured, health will come to be defined more as an overall state of well-being, with mental, social, emotional, physical, and spiritual health all being prioritized.

“Not only will consumers have access to detailed information about their own health, they will own their health data,” he said, “and play a central role in making decisions about their health and well-being.”

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