January is here and we know what that means. Conference season has officially arrived. Time to be inundated with a barrage of invites, notifications and write-ups for the foreseeable future. CES kicked things off and got our blood flowing, mine especially with all the new vehicles that were showcased. I’m a Nissan Leaf owner with dreams of one day upgrading to a Tesla (my wife and checking account still need to come around). I’ll probably get my way just in time for cars to go fully autonomous. Maybe by then I’ll at least have that next generation DeLorean to look forward to, flux capacitor included.

Anyways, back to the conference line-up, we have HIMSS, RSA, SXSW, Dreamforce and finally Burning Man to close out the year. For now, let’s focus on the most recent one, J.P. Morgan’s 37th Annual Healthcare Conference. Forty thousand attendees and 10 percent of healthcare spend can’t be wrong. Throughout my experience, I’ve quickly noticed that there is severe lack of embracing technology among the industry. Other industries, such as financial services, have been much farther ahead on the technology curve.

So why is the healthcare sector struggling in this area? I think there are multiple reasons including non-profits, the scale of organizations and the lack of leadership to name a few. However, I believe in 2019 we will start to see a shift towards leveraging new healthcare technology to help drive down costs and increase efficiency. Ultimately, this will give way to a much better patient experience.

Now, I wasn’t exactly sure which lens I would see technology start to shape healthcare. Personally, I always think it will be some magic software, a silver bullet if you will. That said, I was surprised to see it was bigger than that. We’re actually seeing a strategy conversation. Dan Michelson, CEO of Strata Division Technology, did a great job summarizing what’s happening in his recent article for Becker’s Hospital Review.

Michelson talks about moving away from creating, buying and building hospitals to leveraging the organization as a hub to expand resources and reach. He uses the example of cell phones shifting to Android and iPhone devices which then launch the consumer into a platform for further consumption. He goes on to say it’s a proven strategy that has been shown to work, and he sees innovative organizations moving quickly to adopt it. As a technology aficionado at heart, I’m excited to see this shift, and as a consumer of healthcare, I’m even more excited.

Over the last 18 months, we have seen a lot of M&A activity along with new entrants like Apple and Amazon getting into healthcare. Everyone is shifting attention to make some big strides, which will leave traditional organizations standing in the breeze unless they shift their mindset and focus on the long-term strategy. One example cited is:

“During the JP Morgan Healthcare Conference, it was clear that most have made the shift from a holding company into a single operating entity. Chicago-based Northwestern Medicine shared a very refined playbook for quickly bringing acquisitions onto their “platform,” and the results are pretty stunning as they have transformed from a $1 billion academic medical center into a $5 billion regional healthcare hub in a handful of years.”

Executives at these organizations should be talking long term in their off-site meetings. Hopefully some are, but those are the organizations that need to start thinking big in terms of the future of healthcare technology. Michelson gives a great list of action items:

  • Create the Digital Front Door — or Someone Else Will
  • Drive Affordability and Reduce Cost — or Risk Being the Problem
  • Tackle Social Determinants of Health — or You Won’t Be the Hub for Health in Your Community
  • Create Partnerships for Healthcare Innovation — or Lose the Upside
  • Become the Hub for Targeted Services and Chronic Conditions — or They Will Go Elsewhere
  • Leverage Applied Analytics — or You’ll Lose Your Way

I’d add one more to the list: Get Started Already – Or Risk Becoming Irrelevant. Consumers are demanding better, and now is the time to get a foothold in order to advance your initiatives for 2019. At Wind River, we’re partnering with some innovative solutions that can help you get a jump on your strategy. Let’s chat, and we can help you get the ball rolling.

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