Trends signal wider, more inclusive approaches to healthcare are underway

The movement to value-based healthcare is gaining steam, and consumers stand to benefit as providers ramp up their efforts to provide patients with personalized, affordable and coordinated care that best meets their needs.

Central to these efforts is an emphasis on 24/7 health — an increased focus on keeping individuals healthy, rather than engaging with them only when they are sick, and developing patient loyalty to a health system. This focus has ushered in a new wave of healthcare trends, many of which are designed to ensure that consumers are comfortably in the driver's seat while addressing all of the factors that can affect their health.

Among them: Thanks to the rise in online review services such Yelp or Angie's List, consumers have more avenues than ever before to discover products and services and learn about others' experiences before making a purchase or hire. Like many industries, healthcare has been changed by this shift. In 2017, 60 percent of consumers researched a physician or facility before pursuing care, an 11 percent increase from 2016, according to the Alegeus Healthcare Consumerism Index.

This change is, by and large, a good thing for both patients and providers. More consumers are empowered in their healthcare decisions, and greater access to information is challenging providers to provide the best, most affordable and most convenient care possible. While great gains have been made in this regard, there is still room for improvement, especially as it relates to helping patients better navigate our systems and making their experience an easy one.

One trend that has emerged to improve the consumer experience is an increase in "healthy villages" — an environment that integrates healthcare and wellness services into one central location and includes non-health-related retail, commercial and residential offerings. The geographic proximity of services — such as urgent care, preventive care, outpatient services and senior living spaces — allows consumers greater access and convenience alongside resources that can engage them and their communities in a culture of health. For example, gyms and social service centers are co-located with community gardens; thoroughfares for hiking, walking and biking; and more.

It's estimated that medical care is responsible for a mere 10 percent of a preventable death; diet, exercise, lifestyle habits, genetics, and demographic factors such as where a person lives and their level of education are all more influential.

That is why when it comes to improving health outcomes, more providers are developing strategies that address a patient's holistic needs — medical, social and environmental. One example is providers' recent partnerships with ride-sharing services such as Lyft to ensure that patients who cannot afford or access transportation can make it to their physician's office and other key sites of care. At Ascension, we view partnerships like these as critical in fulfilling our mission to serve all patients, especially those living in poverty and struggling the most.

This wider, more inclusive and innovative view of health is made possible by providers' shared commitment to value-based care, an idea whose time has come and has the potential to turn our industry right side up. And as these promising new trends continue to take root with providers across the country, the results will be better, more personalized outcomes and healthier communities, families and people.

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