Photo by Luke Chesser

Integrating Data for Better Healthcare

In the past decade, consolidation across the healthcare industry combined with the widespread integration of digital technologies have promised to revolutionize how people engage with the healthcare system. The amount of data collected in a single day for a person who has visited their doctor, tracked their physical activity, filled a prescription and monitored their sleep habits has created unprecedented expectations for consumers. Being able to intelligently manage one’s health and wellness through a comprehensive view of personal data is plausible given today’s experiences. However, accelerating the coordination of care to drive better health outcomes and reduce costs of care is still far from reality.

Resistance to Evolve
Legacy systems and disparate data sets across the continuum of care have made it incredibly difficult for organizations, even those that have moved toward vertical integration, to take advantage of the data at their fingertips and deliver meaningful patient experiences. Moreover, a business model that relies heavily on brokers to determine how health insurance is distributed, and thereby how people consume healthcare, offers little incentive for payers to shift from serving populations to putting individual members at the center of the experience.

Disrupting the Status Quo
Despite this resistance to evolve from major players, a few startups today are challenging how traditional healthcare is distributed, consumed and paid for by putting patients at the center of the experience through the integration of data, technology and service.

These smaller players understand that data is only valuable if it can integrate with other systems and create a holistic view of consumers. That is why these smaller companies have decided to design the patient experience first and determine how their tech stack enables that experience. As a result, these companies are moving with agility and attracting new healthcare consumers who are dumbfounded by the all of the pain across the healthcare experience today from enrolling in a new plan to paying for a bill.

The established payers, provider networks and PBMs that control how healthcare is distributed and delivered in this country might believe that these younger companies pose no threat to them. But the size and scale of these recognizable companies is increasingly becoming their biggest hindrance in evolving how they engage with consumers. Legacy platforms, competing incentives and old fashioned ways of working are inhibiting some of the largest companies across the healthcare ecosystem from reinventing themselves and revolutionizing how people make better decisions managing their own health or that of someone they love.

Going Beyond Data Acquisition
Access to more data alone will not improve the healthcare experience. Instead large organizations must reimagine how they think about the care they deliver and serve as a linchpin by connecting all of the pieces of the care journey together. Tensions will arise when competing incentives and individual interests prevent organizations from doing what’s best for their consumers as opposed to their shareholders. But unless these tensions are eventually resolved, there will continue to be unfathomable waste in the US healthcare system, and patients will continue to suffer from it.

Integrating data across the continuum of care to improve health outcomes and reduce costs of care is essential to innovating the patient experience. At the same time, evolving business models to shift decision making from intermediaries to individuals is critical to advancing how healthcare is distributed, consumed and paid for.

Data is a powerful tool, but data alone cannot drive innovation. It needs organizations and the people within them to reinvent how things are done and the experiences that need to be born.



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