Most of us seek comfort. We want the usual.
We tend to hang on too long. Like to that sweater or college T shirt. You know, the one with the frayed edges.
But beyond the harmless totems of the past, the problem is that we often make huge efforts to protect what’s become usual in our greater lives, what’s become comfortable, what’s become “the way things work.”
Hospitals are an example. Home to infections, unions, and to the administrative bloat that is the unspoken of driver of though the roof costs, they’ve become the center of the healthcare universe. On the hospital side, payment mechanisms promote what is essentially the bundling of professional and facility fees. On the physician side, billions of dollars have been invested in preserving this status quo through the acquisition of groups dependent upon hospital contracts.
But all of this is akin to making a train locomotive more efficient while the tracks themselves are falling apart and headed off a cliff.
New technology is fast enabling diagnosis and care outside of the hospital. The ultimate customers, the patients, no matter who is paying the bill, will increasingly demand to receive care and treatment in a manner they prefer. If they can diagnose at home, they will. If they can receive care at home, they will.
Everything that can be delivered, and is wanted to be obtained, outside of the hospital, and even outside of the physician office setting, will be delivered there, with or without you.
No, we’re not talking about next Tuesday or even December 7, 2016. But that’s the clear direction that we’re headed in and to ignore it makes you increasingly irrelevant.
When I wrote years back that there is no such thing as a healthcare system, just a healthcare market, I was supposedly proven wrong. But the reality is that those who argued that healthcare was a system were simply reactionaries, tying to hold on to the equivalent of their 20 year old sweater. They were grasping at preserving a way of business life that never was and is increasingly becoming even more so. Healthcare is a market and what the buyers want isn’t usually sold in the “system’s” store.
So, you have a choice. You can jump cold turkey into the future of healthcare, severing all ties to the hospital-centric model and perhaps even to the physician-centric one. Or, you can hedge your bet and begin to put a foot into both camps.
How will you remain relevant in a world in which patients monitor and diagnose via apps? How will you fit into a situation in which every procedure that can be delivered outside of a hospital will be delivered outside of it if the patient demands it?
You can complain about the future. Physicians can lobby to have apps “arrested” for practicing medicine without a license. Hospitals can buy up all of the urgent care centers in their “catchment area” and shut them down. But people won’t be denied their future.
You can read this and head for the comfort of that sweater. Or you can see the huge upside for those who are proactive in taking advantage of the opportunities that now and will soon exist. We’re working with clients on those opportunities now. If you want to join in that discussion, contact me.
Comment or contact me if you’d like to discuss this post.
Mark F. Weiss