Rising healthcare costs, not taxes, are the “tapeworm of American economic competitiveness,” says Warren Buffett. Indeed, although U.S. healthcare spending (along with family premiums) has been growing at a slower rate in the past decade – from 11.9% in 2007 down to 6.5% today – it’s still growing a lot faster than GDP. We could soon see healthcare spending usurp up to 20% of U.S. GDP, which puts the U.S. at a huge disadvantage in the global market.
Think about the lost investment in R&D, market expansion, customer service or any means of differentiation and growth – the opportunity cost of our healthcare spending is enormous.
And not sustainable.
Which is one reason why attempts to fix the situation – beginning in the 70s – continue to grow and accelerate. Unfortunately, while there’s no shortage of effort and innovation, our country is not making headway fast enough. Consider a few of the efforts over the past decade:
It could be years before we have in place what’s needed to truly shift from fee-for-service to fee-for value, including alignment between payers and providers, the incentive and ability of providers to take on financial risk; and the data integration and sharing to enable care coordination and continuity, as well as the analytics to report on quality, cost and outcomes.
While nearly 100% of acute-care hospitals have adopted electronic health records (EHRs) to store personal health data, these systems are largely “closed:” Only about 26% of hospitals exchange electronic patient data with sources outside of their system.1 What’s more, the data is limited to “structured” clinical data, and the vast world of personal health information is, you guessed it, unstructured.
According to Rock Health, even in a time of great uncertainty as the administration works to unwind the Affordable Care Act, funding for digital health solutions continues to explode. In Q1 2017, Rock Health counted 71 digital health deals totaling over $1B.2 The problem? Nearly half of employees don’t use the digital solutions you’ve deployed – largely because they’re disconnected, hard to find, and hard to access.
Microsoft’s efforts to empower people with control over their personal health data have struggled to make an impact, and Google abandoned their similar initiative. According to a survey by CDW Healthcare, 65% of patients say they face challenges when they try to engage with providers.3
The good news is we have unprecedented opportunity in front of us. We have all of the ingredients to make a major, positive impact on the cost, quality and outcomes of care today:
It’s time to come together, to harness all that we have to work with, and to develop new solutions to our healthcare crisis. That’s the idea behind Evolve, a Healthcare Innovation Event Series hosted by Accolade.
Register now to attend Evolve 2017 in September.
1 Interoperability among U.S. Non-federal Acute Care Hospitals in 2015, ONC Data Brief 36 | May, 2016
2 Rock Health: Q1 2017 Business as Usual for Digital Health
3 CDW Healthcare’s Patient Engagement Perspectives, February 2016