Health Care Disruption Is Here: A Few Considerations for Disruptors

In the health care industry, the one thing we can be certain of is disruption. From payment model changes to consolidations to non-traditional healthcare players entering the market, we are in a constant whirlwind of industry updates that fundamentally change the way care is delivered.

Health care providers, payers and employers that provide health insurance to their employees are challenged to rapidly reinvent their offerings to keep up with the changing environment and consumer demands. However, as new players enter and incumbents look to reinvent themselves, there are unique aspects of the health care delivery market that should be considered.

Diverse patient priorities. New entrants to the sector often build their brand on their ability to address the inefficiencies, inconveniences, and dated technology present in the industry. Amongst many standard services, new entrants notably offer on-demand virtual services, seamless technology integration, and consumer products that serve as patient health hubs. However, some populations may prioritize trust and connection over convenience. For older adults and Black Americans, trust is central to their health care interactions and a foundational aspect of their relationship with their health care provider. Organizations looking to meet the needs of diverse populations should invest in personalizing and humanizing their services and not rely on infrastructure to drive connection with patients.

Data privacy. With the growing amount of electronic health data being generated, as well as big data aggregation, consumers are becoming more concerned about the privacy and security of their health data. As my colleague Brian Keeter wrote, health care organizations are challenged to demonstrate to consumers that they are fortifying their digital defenses. Organizations should have clear strategies for communicating how health data is protected from misuse. For big tech companies that already manage massive amounts consumer data, those strategies should detail how they plan to manage sensitive health data and whether health data will be kept separate from consumer data. A data specific communication strategy will help boost consumer confidence in their ability to protect health data and drive adoption of innovative care models.

Lagging changes to payment models. In the United States, payment for health care services involve a complex system of public and private organizations. Consequently, health care payment models tend not to evolve as fast as the market does. This leads to innovative care models that are not covered by payment programs and, instead, are paid out-of-pocket by patients limiting their reach. As my colleague Mathew Shearman wrote of remote health care, reform of existing payment rules and equitable reimbursement is required to advance the use of innovate care models. To support widescale adoption, organizations should ensure their services fit within current payment models but also have an advocacy strategy that aims to advance payment reform.

Drivers of Health (commonly known as Social Determinants of Health). Much of the disruption in the sector has been focused on traditional service delivery. However, health care organizations that focus on health services alone will have a limited impact on health outcomes unless they address the role of the environment on an individual’s health. In the United States, where health outcomes trail far behind other high-income countries, new models with limited impact on health outcomes can be at risk for low adoption and public scrutiny. To drive improvements in health outcomes, organizations should engage with communities to understand how drivers of health strategies can be incorporated into their models. This could look like providing remote monitoring devices to Community Health Workers to distribute to populations with access barriers. Or investing in affordable housing units that provide consumers convenient access to healthy foods, fitness facilities and health care services.

For organizations looking to disrupt care delivery, relying on technological innovations alone will not be enough. Consumers and key stakeholders are looking for care models that meet the needs of diverse populations, are accessible, and drive improvements in health outcomes. Centering strategies and communications on these elements can help organizations build trust, enhance reputation, and drive wide-scale adoption.