The biggest change in healthcare 5 years from today

Digital transformation has accelerated change in healthcare delivery significantly over the last three years. What's in store for the next five?

The "Becker's Healthcare Podcast" team asked leaders at the Health IT + Digital Health + Revenue Cycle event Oct. 3-6 in Chicago and learned where digital leaders see healthcare delivery headed.

Question: Five years from now, what do you think will be the most significant change in healthcare delivery and operations?

Sara Vaezy. Chief Strategy and Digital Officer of Providence (Renton, Wash.): The realities of the last couple of years have started to set in in that the importance of partnerships and connected ecosystems of care, what that means is that we are going to fully start to realize that patients and consumers don't just go to one place. We've been talking about it for a long time, but we're fully, actually experiencing it now and realizing its implications. One of the things that we've realized is that consumers use about five different healthcare brands per year for a variety of different things. They're often doing that on their own. They have to navigate it on their own. So, engaging systematically in partnerships that allow all of these different brands to benefit from working with one another in service to a better patient experience, I think that's what we're going to start seeing more of.

There are a lot of other systemic structural challenges in the healthcare system. For instance, how healthcare is financed; that's a very difficult, potentially intractable problem, but connecting the dots, I think for patients around common frameworks like consumer engagement that's supported by single sign-on, for instance, is where we're going to start seeing that. We are working on it actively; we just announced our fourth incubated technology that's workin on that notion of identity-driven engagement.

That's the biggest change that we'll see in the next five years.

Edward Lee, MD. Executive Vice President and CIO of The Permanente Federation (Oakland, Calif.): With respect to AI, I think it's the fact that there's going to be increased incorporation of AI tools into our clinical practice. I'm convinced that quality of care will improve and that AI technology combined with clinician expertise will make our healthcare system better. I think in the future AI isn't going to be a nice-to-have anymore, it will be a standard of care. Not only because it will drive improvements in quality, but it will curve the rising costs in healthcare.

I think the future is incredibly exciting. It's going to be a fun ride.

Sophy Lu. Senior Vice President and CIO of Northwell Health (New Hyde Park, N.Y.): I think five years from now, or even shorter, you're going to see some of the care models evolving. Those care models will become more the reality and the norm. There are different maturity levels right now. You will also see that it is imperative that technology is the enablement for us to deliver care in those care models, and making sure we're embracing that and leveraging that to the best of our ability because that is the only way we can meet the consumers where they are expecting for their experience. It's also the way we can deal with the complexity and myriad of information serving up for our clinicians and medical research.

David Reis. Senior Vice President and Chief Information and Digital Officer at the University of Miami and University of Miami Health System: It's going to be more of an "anywhere, any time" patient-at-the-center dictating when the appointment happens and encounter occurs. We have to make sure we have the provider ecosystem that can provide the patient access when the patient wants it. That's going to be the single biggest change in healthcare. We saw that through the pandemic when we were using technology to deliver care in settings we hadn't before and at times we hadn't before. I think that trend will continue and accelerate over the next few years.

It's a wild time in healthcare and technology innovation in general. We are in a paradigm shift in the use of technology; no longer is it going to be technology that creates work. We're at a time when technology eliminates the administrative work and allows us to focus more and more on the high value functions and actions.

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