6 Trends Shaping The Future Of Healthcare

This article originally appeared in Inc. Magazine in March 2019

By Soren Kaplan, Founder, Praxie | @SorenKaplan

This article is one more in a series I call Everything Transformed where I'm highlighting the disruptive forces revolutionizing just about every industry on the planet, including packaging, travel and hospitality, industrial safety, and more. This time it's healthcare.

It's no secret. The healthcare industry is going through massive disruption. To some, it's not fast enough. To others, it's been too much too fast. Whatever your stance, it's fair to say healthcare is broken. $3.5 Trillion was spent on healthcare in 2018, roughly 18% of the country's GDP. Despite this giant investment, the Commonwealth Fund ranked the U.S. dead last in a study of 11 developed nations when ranking the performance of our healthcare system.

I'm drawing insights from my consulting work with some of the largest industry players, as well as my relationship with Plug and Play, one of Silicon Valley's largest investment firms and startup accelerators. According to Neda Amidi, Global Head of Health at Plug and Play, "I think we'll continue to see startups tackling massive datasets using AI and machine learning. The information gathered from these datasets have the potential to bring up some fascinating predictive insights that will be of tremendous value to insurers, pharmaceutical companies and hospital systems."

Artificial intelligence is just one thing that might help the system. I asked Amidi what she sees as the major drivers transforming the industry - and that represent opportunity areas for startups and healthcare players to innovate.  Here are a few:

Consumerization of Healthcare

Consumers now bear more cost for their care, so they expect new tools for comparison shopping and finding 'value' as they shop for healthcare. They also have expectations from using services in other industries (like mobile banking, ride-sharing or Amazon's one click purchasing) they want healthcare providers to deliver as well.

Value-Based Care

The value-based care model ties medical payments to the quality of care provided (like not being readmitted to the hospital within a certain time frame). There's a movement towards the model where providers are incentivized and rewarded on lower spending and better outcomes instead of the traditional fee-for-service reimbursement model, which is pushing them to innovate their care delivery processes and infrastructure.

Population Health Management

Population health involves managing the overall health - and health costs - of a total population of people. Keeping people well saves money on expensive care, so if you're an insurance provider it might make sense to provide added support like healthy food options, exercise plans, transportation, and even education for make healthy decisions.

Opioid Crisis Solutions

The opioid epidemic has placed tremendous burden and cost on an already stressed system. Insurers, health providers, public health officials, and nonprofit organizations will continue to seek solutions, with data analytics leading the way to help identify anomalies and abuses in the system.

Remote Patient Care & Telehealth

The shortage of doctors and nurses have made telemedicine options increasingly attractive, especially for patients that don't live close to hospitals or specialists. Videoconferencing technologies along with health insurance providers that are open to exploring remote care models are accelerating the trend.

Precision Medicine & Genomics

Massive datasets that have been built over the past few years that contain data tied to DNA, medical images, and more are ready to be analyzed. More and more health systems now engage their populations by collecting samples and conducting behavioral research to explore the relationship between biological, environmental and behavior contributors to health and wellness.

Plug and Play's 180,000 square foot facility in Silicon Valley houses both startups and "corporate partners" who join the incubator to rub elbows with the startups.  Corporate partners include Johnson & Johnson, Roche, Boehringer Ingelheim, Sanofi, Cleveland Clinic and others.

According to Dr. William H. Morris, Associate Chief Information Officer at Cleveland Clinic, "We're focused on the patient experience, cost, and value of what we deliver. We need to increase the quality of patient care at a lower cost to address our country's health disparities and inequities.  We have a moral, ethical, and fiscal obligation to solve this and we see working with startups a great way to accelerate our goals."

Amidi works to bridge the challenges faced by corporate partners like Cleveland Clinic and the "batches" of startups they help accelerate. "As our program has grown and we've added more pharmaceutical and hospital partners, our batches have evolved to focus more towards value-based care models, care delivery, operational efficiency, chronic disease management, specific therapeutic areas, and more," says Amidi.

Some of Plug and Play's more innovative startups include:

  • Heal - Heal brings a licensed, background-checked pediatrician or family doctor to you, on-demand, on your schedule, at the touch of a mobile app.
  • Owkin - Owkin transforms unstructured datasets into thousands of accurate diagnostic and predictive models.
  • DeepScribe - By listening in on the natural doctor-patient conversation, DeepScribe uses advanced deep learning to generate accurate, compliant, and secure SOAP (medical record) notes.
  • Limbix - The Limbix Virtual Reality Kit is medical grade, wireless, and doesn't require internet. Patients are immersed in a clinically validated VR experience, controlled from a tablet by a clinician.
  • Prellis Biologics - Prellis Biologics has built holographic laser printing technology that makes production of lab-grown human organs possible.

Melanie Matheu, CEO and Co-Founder of Prellis Biologics, one of Plug and Play's startups, believes big changes are especially on the horizon for health insurers: "Health care insurance is ripe for disruption. The system is broken and is one of the largest hurdles in getting new drugs to market."

Every player across the healthcare ecosystem has an opportunity to transform themselves and, in turn, positively impact the broader system. It's time to heal healthcare.

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