Skip to main content

How Can Healthcare Be Fixed? Make it Simple

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   January 12, 2024

Mark Cuban and Glen Tullman are two of the many disruptors aiming to make healthcare more convenient for consumers. Their advice to healthcare execs: Do more by doing less

As CES 2024 winds down, the message to healthcare executives is simple: Do more by doing less.

The healthcare industry has become too complicated, frustrating patients and stressing out doctors and nurses. As a result, consumers are looking elsewhere for their healthcare, to retail companies, pharmacies, and online companies that promise convenience and transparency.

“You need to start questioning the long-held beliefs of the way you thought things needed to be done,” billionaire investor and businessman Mark Cuban said during a closing session of the two-day Digital Health Summit.

In other words, healthcare executives need to find a way to cut through the complexity and return to the simple process of health and care. And technologies like digital health and AI will help them make that transformation.

Cuban, who launched the Cost Plus Drug Company in 2022 to give consumers access to generic medications, shared the stage at CES with Glen Tullman, the former Allscripts executive who now heads the integrated healthcare benefits company Transcarent. The two are part of the growing ranks of disruptors aiming to make healthcare more consumer-friendly.  

Their appearance capped two days of sessions on the value of consumer-facing digital health technology to address a healthcare ecosystem that many say is broken. Advocates say digital health tools like AI can take on some of the industry’s biggest pain points by automating tasks, improving workflows and boosting clinical outcomes.

The challenge is in getting health system executives and payers to take notice. Few made it to Las Vegas this week, giving attendees just a few examples of how health systems are using technology to improve operations and little evidence that payers will pay for it.

Tullman, who launched the successful digital healthcare startup Livongo prior to developing Transcarent, said the industry needs to focus on the consumer experience, embracing new technologies and ideas that make it easier for the consumer to access healthcare at the time and place of their choosing. Technology, he said, should be the foundation of that experience.

“But if people are talking about the technology, that’s a problem,” he added. “Look for technology to simplify things rather than [produce} complications,”

That’s one reason that AI is such a hot topic, at CES and elsewhere. Health systems and hospitals are embracing the technology as a means of reducing administrative and data-intensive tasks, giving clinicians more time to focus on healthcare delivery and giving consumers an easier path to that care.

“There are many practical uses,” said Tullman, whose company has developed an AI tool called 10X—designed, he said, “to make physicians 10 times more proficient.” He predicted AI would “simplify the paperwork” and “improve the quality of the experience.”

Cuban said AI will change the entire healthcare industry, and he predicted “millions” of models and applications. It will, he said, democratize healthcare.

Both said the key to the transformation of healthcare lies in putting healthcare in the hands of the consumer. If health systems and hospitals are slow to make that adjustment, they’ll lose patients to the disruptors who are making the experience more convenient and less costly.

Cuban told a story about his son needing an MRI. Through their health plan, that MRI would cost roughly $2,000. Cuban called the doctor’s office and asked for the cash price, and was told the MRI would cost $470. Some providers, he pointed out, would prefer cash in hand rather than going through the process of scheduling and billing.

“Healthcare is more confusing, more complex, and more costly than ever before,” Tullman added.

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


KEY TAKEAWAYS

The Digital Health Summit at CES 2024 concluded Thursday with a closing session featuring billionaire businessman Mark Cuban and Transcarent founder Glen Tullman

Both are examples of disruptors who are challenging health systems and hospitals by making healthcare more consumer-friendly, less complex and less expensive

Healthcare execs need to adapt to this changing paradigm by using technology to reduce the complexity in healthcare, improving the experience for both providers and patients.


Get the latest on healthcare leadership in your inbox.