Healthcare’s Transformation Depends on Collaboration

May 17  

A version of this article appeared in the May 20 issue of Modern Healthcare.

We encourage you to join us on June 24 for Leading the Conversation to discuss the ideas raised in this piece and barriers to collaboration.

Healthcare is transforming. Those who pay close attention to the industry can see interest in value-based arrangements growing, hear calls for price transparency getting louder, and feel the hurt of patients who are forgoing care either because they can’t afford it or because it is otherwise inaccessible to them. 

Changing an industry that accounts for 18% of U.S. gross domestic product takes time, but that’s a commodity increasingly in short supply, as voters cited healthcare as their No. 1 concern in the 2018 midterm elections. External pressure on the industry to change will only increase as the 2020 elections get closer, so how can organizations of every size work to improve healthcare outcomes while reducing prices? 

Simply put: The future of healthcare is collaboration. Without collaborative efforts, the industry will remain too fractured and adversarial to successfully transform itself to be patient-first and efficient.

This was the message from Best Buy Board Member Cindy Kent, President of Best Buy Health Asheesh Saksena, and Vice President and General Manager of Medtronic Care Management Services Sheri Dodd all brought to the 2019 Annual Dinner: No matter how big or small, innovative or traditional, a company is, going it alone isn’t going to be an option much longer. The days of payers, providers, device and drug manufacturers all tilting at one another must come to an end for the good of patients and for the health of the industry as a whole.

Finding the right partners and moving boldly forward isn’t an idle belief within our community. Large, influential companies like Medtronic and UnitedHealthcare have found great success with value-based agreements, such as the one they have aimed at helping patients with type 1 diabetes better manage their condition. And while payers and providers may be traditionally adversarial, thanks to a collaborative agreement signed in 2018, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota patients at the Mayo Clinic will get complex care more efficiently.

Smaller companies, too, are a growing source of efficiency and innovation in healthcare. Hitch Health helped Hennepin Healthcare cut its no-show rate by 20% in a pilot completed last summer, and digital health companies like Vidscrip and Zipnosis are partnering with large health systems to make ongoing care more convenient for patients without adding to the physician’s burden. While there have traditionally been substantial barriers to entry in healthcare, payers and providers that are open to new ways of doing business are increasingly outpacing their competition, driving up patient satisfaction, and ensuring their own long-term viability all at the same time.

And those are just some of the ways collaboration is transforming healthcare here in Minnesota. This year, we launched the Healthcare Transformation Initiative at Medical Alley, a time for leaders to gather and face healthcare’s future head-on, to find the right partners, and to learn from their peers across the industry. We believe that by giving small groups of leaders the space to talk face-to-face about the issues they see as critical to their business, we can dispense with the formalities that have often prevented meaningful partnerships from being formed. 

Breaking down the barriers to collaborative healthcare, whether they be traditional boundaries, incompatible systems, the desire to silo information, or anything else inhibiting progress must be intentionally and purposefully deconstructed if healthcare is going to flourish. Innovation is happening at an exciting pace. Huge gains are being made across healthcare, particularly in spaces like personalized medicine, genomic analysis, and digital health, setting the stage for a golden age of global health. 

However, if we choose instead to continually relitigate old conflicts, abide by old borders, and stick to old agreements instead of creating an integrated, patient-first strategy that helps people live longer, more vital lives, choices about the future of healthcare are increasingly going to be externally imposed rather than internally chosen. 

Healthcare is transforming; let’s make sure we’re the ones directing its future.

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