The Age of Consumer Empowerment Begins in Earnest

The Age of Consumer Empowerment Begins in Earnest. An old-time strongman lifts a dumbbell with pie charts on the ends.

Now that the holidays are over, ’tis the season for health care forecasts, outlooks and predictions. And while leading research, data and consulting firms each have their unique insights about what’s in store for health care this year, some key themes have emerged, many of which center around consumer empowerment. Here’s a sampling of what caught our eye.

Consumers will leverage their data like never before

The PwC Health Research Institute’s “Top Health Industry Issues of 2020” report notes that do-it-yourself health care consumers will be more assertive this year as they reap the benefits of the huge investments that have been made in data collection, storage and analysis.

The rise of companies with business models centered on giving consumers greater access to their own data and providing insights based on those data will help many consumers become more involved in their own care. By connecting electronic health records, claims data, lab work and other information, consumers will get a clearer picture of their overall health and where it may be headed.

PwC’s team notes that as companies use data to help consumers make smarter clinical and financial decisions about their care, Americans are gaining greater levels of control over their personal health information. This could leave provider organizations feeling pressured by both consumers and startup companies seeking to share more data that can advance consumer decision-making.

Many hurdles still need to be cleared as we begin to see the full potential for data to disrupt health care, the PwC report notes. These include things like poor data reliability, data protection and privacy regulations, an inability to adequately protect and secure data and a lack of analytical talent. But make no mistake, consumers will have greater leverage this year and beyond in accessing and using their data to shape their care decisions, cut costs and improve their health.

Consumers expect prevention, well-being to be a greater focus

Deloitte’s “2020 Global Health Care Outlook” notes that greater consumer engagement and empowerment will drive care model changes this year.

Deloitte officials believe care model innovation will accelerate this year and beyond to meet consumers’ expectations, with greater focus on prevention and well-being and less on treatment. Greater attention will need to be paid to solving the challenges of unequal access, capacity, capability and affordability.

Provider organizations, health plans, government payers and others in the health care ecosystem will need to draw closer together to develop strategies and make investments in new care models and technologies that address the drivers of health, enable early diagnoses and monitor response to treatment, the report states.

This might be accomplished by having hospital and health system leaders who now compete for patients in a specific region collaborate to find ways to keep community members healthy and out of the hospital — something more and more leading provider organizations are doing. Health plan leaders could help drive meaningful and sustainable change by developing new coverage models that emphasize health and well-being rather than provider networks.

The report also notes that developing an enterprise-wide virtual health strategy will help ensure that investments address short-term goals and allow for future expansion, while optimizing the impact on patient engagement, affordability, transformation and patient care.

Be prepared for the empowered 2020 health care consumer

As Reenita Das, partner and senior vice president of health care and life sciences at Frost & Sullivan, recently pointed out in the article “Top 8 Predictions That Will Disrupt Healthcare in 2020,” the “retailization” of health care is largely being driven by empowered patients. In 2020, this trend will be more pronounced as consumers have greater access to information.

Das believes the digitization of products, services and business models is democratizing current health care systems, fueling the comparison-shopping consumer mindset. She expects to see new and expanded offerings in the retail pharmacy space from companies like CVS Health, Walgreens and Walmart, in the retail sector from companies like Costco and Best Buy, and in the digital marketplace from companies like Amazon and Ali Health.

Will you be ready for these changes and challenges? These AHA resources can assist you as you evaluate your strategy for 2020 and beyond:

  • “2020 Environmental Scan”: This resource provides an overview of the trends, statistics and economic forecasts likely to affect patients and providers at every level of care. Topics include workforce issues, health (including social determinants, behavioral health and aging), innovation, affordability and value, and more.
  • “Futurescan 2020-2025: Health Care Trends and Implications”: This report provides expertise and perspectives from thought leaders in the field on such issues as disruptive innovation, the changing face of strategic health care partnerships, building a resilient health care organization and more.

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