Future of HealthcareWhat will healthcare look like in 2025? How about in the years beyond? What are the priorities for healthcare organizations in the next several years?

A look at the future of healthcare took center stage at the recent ACHE of Massachusetts Spring Conference. And despite all the challenges in healthcare today, the speakers at the conference are hopeful we will be able to tackle some big issues in the years ahead. Here’s a look at what we can expect and what we hope will happen by 2025.

Measuring success through patient feedback

Earlier this week, I wrote about how human benefits were the central theme of the New England HIMSS Spring Conference. The same was true of the ACHE conference. Healthcare organizations will be successful when they put the needs of the patient front and center and work on improving patient care and the patient experience during care.

For Beth Israel Lahey Health (BILH), based in Eastern Massachusetts, patient care is the focal point of the new organization’s merger efforts. Dr. Kevin Tabb, president and CEO of the health system, spoke about how the new BILH is committed to providing a comprehensive, high-value system of care throughout Eastern Massachusetts. He says the organization will “measure success by the difference we make in people’s lives.”

Dr. Tabb further went on to say that the patient needs to be at the center of every discussion within the hospital, even if it deals with areas that are not thought to be patient-focused such as supply chain or revenue cycle.

Serving the under-served patients

Kate Walsh, president and CEO of Boston Medical Center (BMC), also spoke at the ACHE conference. Her presentation focused on BMC’s mission to reach the underserved members of the community. Walsh said it’s important to meet the needs of the Medicaid population. While 25% of Massachusetts’ population falls under Medicaid, their care is responsible for 40% of the state budget. By serving their needs, we are better able to control the cost of care, as well as potentially help lift them out of poverty.

Walsh also talked about future innovation, saying that technologists and researchers need to do a better job of trying to impact the low-income populations. Right now, much innovation focuses on apps or technology to impact those with deeper pockets. But she maintains that reaching the lower-income population would have a more profound impact for the dollars invested.

The vision for healthcare in 2025

The event also featured a panel with Charles Boicey, co-founder and chief innovation officer at Clearsense; Nancy Michaels, patient satisfaction advocate; Joan Quinlan, vice president for community health at Massachusetts General Hospital; Steven Strongwater, president and CEO of Atrius Health; and Alan Goldberg, president of Applied Management Systems, who moderated the panel. These speakers all talked about what they would like to see in healthcare in 2025. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Capturing the patient’s voice is important. Health systems need to hear from the patient in order to improve care and service. And the panelists agreed that there needs to be a better way to do that instead of using a scale of 1-5 on many satisfaction surveys. Healthcare organizations should see their patients as human beings – which is often not the case right now. They should also ask patients, “Did you get what you wanted?” and listen to more substantive feedback rather than a numerical rating.
  • Providers need to better understand social determinants of health. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), social determinants of health (SDOH) are “the circumstances in which people are born, grow up, live, work, and age.” These factors greatly impact not only a person’s overall health, but also the quality of the healthcare they receive. Over the next several years, there will be a greater push in healthcare to better understand these factors and work to implement programs to eliminate the health disparities that they cause.
  • Data literacy is critical. Data in the healthcare industry is exploding. According to a recent IDC report, it is growing at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 36%. With this expected growth and potential, it’s important to understand what data is being presented and how to act on that data. One challenge with healthcare organizations is that they often don’t have extensive technology budgets. With the explosion of data, it will be more important moving forward to implement platforms where all the data is in one place, rather than having one-off solutions that are siloed.
  • Big tech companies could make a big impact. Companies such as Amazon and Google have shown signs they are moving into healthcare. In 2025, will they have made an impact? The tech giants could use their expertise in other industries to disrupt healthcare. For example, with its expertise in supply chain, Amazon could make a big impact in hospital purchasing.

Conclusion

The ACHE of Massachusetts conferences are always a great opportunity to both meet with leaders in the Massachusetts healthcare industry and learn about the latest issues shaping healthcare today. While there is certainly much work that needs to be done in healthcare over the next several years, it’s exciting to see what issues hospital and health system leaders are not only thinking about, but are actively working to solve.

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Kathy Sucich

Kathy is director of healthcare marketing at Dimensional Insight. She graduated from Dartmouth College and is currently pursuing her MBA in health sector management at Boston University. Kathy is also communications chair for the Massachusetts chapter of the American College of Healthcare Executives (ACHE).
Kathy Sucich
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