The Validation Institute was out in force at HIMSS19 (Healthcare Information and Management Society) in Orlando, FL where disruption of the healthcare status quo was a major theme. From the miles of exhibit floor to speakers on the main stage, there was a resounding call for innovation as a means of disruption. Accompanying innovation, though, are other sets of challenges that must be carefully considered, such as the patient experience and how to deliver the greatest value with the most impact, which themselves became catalysts for meaningful conversation between vendors, healthcare purchasers, and providers. Walking the miles of exhibit floor and seeing so many solutions working to drive the quality of care was inspiring, but it also made a few other things abundantly clear:
1. The age of overpromising and under-delivering in healthcare is over
Today’s consumers, health plans, providers, and other purchasers spend too much money on healthcare to not hold vendors more accountable for outcomes. In their home lives, healthcare purchasers and providers have become accustomed to checking reviews, comparing products, and receiving them on their preferred schedule. It only makes sense that they want to carry these same scrupulous buying methods into their work lives where purchases can affect the lives and productivity of many.
Overall, we need to make the verifiable choices clearer, the buying cycle more transparent and outcome driven, and to put quality of care and the patient experience on a pedestal instead of being swayed by too good to be true claims and the too often hidden costs of cheaper service that accompany them. Turning away from hype and focusing on finding the balance between cost and quality is the only way to create and foster truly transformative healthcare.
2. Healthcare purchasing begs for simplification
Strolling past the 1,300+ vendors, I was struck by just how overwhelming the buying process can be, but also how vendors must also be struggling to stand out amongst a sea of marketing claims. When every claim sounds wonderful and critical to a purchaser’s organization, how are they to make sense of it all and feel confident in the products and services they’re buying?
HIMSS19 only confirmed the need for objective, third-parties to help separate numerical fact from overzealous marketing fiction. The idea is not just to simplify healthcare purchasing and increase healthcare vendors’ sales pipelines, but rather to address a greater, more altruistic drive of improving the quality of healthcare overall by enabling those with verifiable, real results to better stand out in an overcrowded market as a model of quality, credibility, and reliability.
3. All roads lead back to patient experience
Regardless of where innovation sparks within the healthcare market, the driving force behind these disruptions must remain centered on the patient. When a provider uses a lackluster portal or a health plan touts a glitchy telehealth app it’s not always the vendor’s product that gets a bad review. Patients hold providers and health systems responsible for those low-quality experiences, at least in the court of public opinion. In the case of providers, that can make it difficult to foster doctor-patient trust, which is so important for retention, but it can also complicate attracting new patients or even other medical professionals.
Even when a product isn’t directly used by patients, benefits of efficiency, quality, and cost savings trickle down into the patient experience through the provider or health plan and should ultimately be a key factor in evaluating value and outcomes.
Validating performance claims is only the beginning for this kind of disruption. A logical extension is training and empowering providers and purchasers to ask vendors the right questions. And then there’s the need on the employer benefits side of connecting value-minded purchasers to reputable and like-minded brokers/advisors. In short, the greatest (and most needed) disruption is creating a more value-based healthcare market.
RD Whitney is CEO of Validation Institute and has been building transformative buyer/seller communities for nearly three decades.