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3 Trends Health:Further's Leader Says Will Impact Health Systems

Analysis  |  By Mandy Roth  
   August 29, 2018

Conference CEO shares the ideas event attendees are talking most about.

There's a buzz of excitement about the possibilities for the future of healthcare at the Health:Further conference currently taking place in Nashville, Tennessee. No one embodies this more than conference CEO Marcus Whitney, who founded this open community focused on the future of health, which has attracted Innovators, providers, entrepreneurs, and investors to the city for the three-day event, which has a burgeoning healthcare technology scene.    

I spoke with Whitney, who is also president and co-founder of Briovation, an innovation catalyst company focused on health innovations, and founder of Jumpstart Foundry, seed-stage healthcare innovation fund. He enumerated the three biggest trends conference participants are discussing that will impact healthcare systems.

1. Employers Are Scrutinizing Appropriateness of Care

"Large, self-insured employers are starting to seriously look at the employee healthcare expense line on their income statement," says Whitney. "They're starting to really analyze it. That is one of the big things that we heard was from Marcus Osborne."

Osborne is vice president, health & wellness transformation at Walmart. Whitney interviewed Osborne onstage during the conference.

"Appropriateness of care—or lack thereof—is a big contributor to where that expense line ends up," Whitney says. "What [Osborne] meant, was [that employers are] not focusing entirely on the quality of a procedure but rather whether or not the procedure was even needed in the first place."

2. Rural Healthcare Systems are Grounds for Innovation

The second trend many conference participants are talking about, says the Health:Further CEO, "is a macro trend. There is a demographic shift of populations [moving] into the urban core. This is making it much easier for health systems to operate in urban markets and making it that much more difficult to operate a health system in a rural market.

"It isn't about how well the health system operates," says Whitney, "It's about who's in the market that the health system is operating in.

"We believe that's going to drive health systems in rural markets to one of two outcomes," he reports. "One, they may shut down, or two, they may reinvent the way that they provide health to that community. That was something I heard over and over and over again from leaders in the rural health markets."

Whitney says that specific solutions, such as telemedicine, were not discussed.

"I think you can pretty quickly get to telehealth being one of the things," he says, "but I want to be careful about saying it's telehealth, because a lot of the things that I heard were really about how to better integrate prevention strategies into community assets in rural communities. How do you keep people from going into acute care settings in rural communities as opposed to telemedicine and just continuing doing the same thing except over a phone instead of in a building?

"I think that there is a true sense of a need to change the way of thinking," Whitney says.

3. Something Big is Coming in the Consumer Health Experience

"The third trend is this sense that in the very near future—and we're starting to see glimpses of it now—a fantastic consumer healthcare experience is going to arrive," says Whitney. "And [people are wondering] are health systems really ready for that? No one felt confident on where this will come from, but there is a sense that it's coming."

When asked if this change will come from the Amazons and Googles of the world, Whitney replies, "You know, one of the things I'm really happy about is no one named names. No one tried to predict who was going to do it. But there is a sense that it is going to happen."

Mandy Roth is the innovations editor at HealthLeaders.

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