The health care field is a pretty big landscape and there is a lot going on throughout it. With such a wide array of industries involved, and so many differing points-of-view on new changes in policy, it can be difficult to navigate it all. Watching the news, one would think that Obamacare and the issues associated with signing up for health care are the nexus for opportunities and issues moving forward.
From Ankota's vantage point though, the changes happening in our industry present a number of opportunities and issues not generally presented by the media. Please let us know what you think of our list or what would be in your Top 10:
- Healthcare Delivery at Home is Catching On: The childhood images I saw of doctors on TV were of them making house calls, but since then, common practice has been for people to go to the doctor's office or hospital for care. The tides are starting to turn again. Folks are begining to realize that hospitalizations are the most expensive form of care, and that care at home can result in better overall care at a lower cost. I personally believe that home health is the key to truly reforming the US health system (but I'll blog about that another day).
- Corporations are Promoting Workforce Health: Most big corporations hire an insurance company to transact their health insurance, but they pay the bills themselves. They're realizing that the healhier their work force is, the higher company productivity will be and the lower their costs. So corporate wellness programs are on the rise.
- Health Information is Getting Ready to Share: The initial wave of health care reform has been to move health documentation off of paper and into a computerized Electronic Medical Record (EMR). In and of itself, putting the information in a computer doesn't help much. The value only comes to bear when the information is shared among a person's care team. This can lead to the elimination of redundant tests and to improved diagnoses.
- People are Starting to Comparison Shop: With healthcare costs on the rise, individuals and families have to pay more of those costs, and this is resulting in improved price transparency and choice. For example, our family gets our prescriptions in 90-day quantities from Express Scripts (and usually with no co-pay) and more choices are becoming available to consumers.
- Mobile Health Apps are Taking Off: Health care generally lags other other industries when it comes to technology, but it's starting to catch up. One of the hot devices and apps this Christmas was the FitBit, which is a little bracelet that tracks your daily activity and connects to an app where you can also track diet, water, sleep and more.
- Chronic Care is Becoming More Proactive: The health care math is that 5% of the population accounts for almost half of the health care cost. The 5% are generally made up of people with multiple chronic diseases. Now that care is shifting (slowly but surely) to the "Accountable Care Organization (ACO)" model where an organization gets a fixed amounf per person to manage the care for a population of individuals. As a result, these organizations are getting more proactive about managing their chronically ill members.
- Roles are Changing in the Health Care Ecosystem: As new models emerge, health organizations are changing their roles. The biggest change is that Insurers and Providers are joining forces and following the best practices or Kaiser, Geissinger, the Mayo Clinic and other managed care organizations. Ankota focuses on care delivery at home and we expect that home health organizations will increasingly add services like "Care Transision Services" and "Non-Medical Home Care for the Elderly." It's not a coincidence that Ankota's focus is to provide software for these two models of care delivery.
- Exchanges are for Companies Too: More companies are looking towards private exchanges to be able to offer their employees more choice. Since insurance is costing more and the companies are paying a smaller share of the total cost, there is value to giving choices to employees and the exchanges are making this easier and somewhat more affordable for companies.
- Technology is Driving Productivity: In pretty much every industry but healthcare, automation has led to efficiency and the ability to do more with less. It's health care's turn. The need to provide care for more patients at lower cost is resulting in more rapid adoption of technology for communicating with patients, and for simplifying tasks performed by health care personnel.
- Opportunities are Emerging for Smaller Healthcare Technology Providers: In the short term, the push to implement electronic medical records actually slowed down the adoption of new technology in health care, because hospitals and practices needed to focus all of their energy on the EMR project. In the mean time, entrepreneurs innovating in health care technologies weren't getting much attention. In 2014, their time has finally come.