6 minute read 5 Nov 2018
Nurse uses laptop in theatre

Shifting health from cost reduction to customer-care models

Authors

David Roberts

EY Global Health Leader

Leads global team working for clients in health. Passionate about how consumers change the way healthcare is designed, delivered and funded. Long distance biker – metaphorically and actually.

Jenny Parker

EY Oceania Health and Life Sciences Leader

Improving health services sustainability strategies. Two wonderful children. Avid walker and baker.

Gerald Marion

EY Strategy and Innovation Realized Partner and EY Asia-Pacific Innovation Solution Lead

Experienced strategy and customer innovation professional. Long-term passion for realizing strategic value of innovation. Believes in giving back. Active player in the higher education sector.

6 minute read 5 Nov 2018

Innovating healthcare will require a systemic shift from an optimisation play focused on reducing cost and time spent to a more personalised participatory health ecosystem.

New opportunities lie at the intersection between megatrends and human outcomes, where experience-led organisations will reap the benefits faster than transactional operators.

In a 2018 survey of 2,044 consumers and 177 doctors across Australia, EY discovered three central concerns, as detailed in the EY Future of Health report: 

  1. There is a gap between how doctors and consumers-patients perceive their experience of the health care system. Critically, only 42 per cent of consumers rated Australia's healthcare system as “Excellent” or “Very good”, compared with 62 per cent of doctors;
  2. Consumers want to participate more in their own care; and
  3. Doctors need a new model to survive and thrive in the digitised ecosystem. An aging population, shifting power dynamics, increased demand for services and changing consumer expectations, is already driving a new health ecosystem.

Getting the customer-patient and staff experience right improves financial viability. Australia’s Productivity Commission estimates that shifting towards a patient-centred and digitally driven healthcare system has the potential to deliver more than AU$8.5 billion in societal benefits over the next five years.

The Australian healthcare system has been slow to embrace the opportunities of a more digitally engaged customer-base and the multiplication of disruptive digital technologies. The sector is still figuring how to embrace a national digital health record. It is also starting to explore more seriously industry health standards and digital solutions such as robotics process automation, AI-based diagnostics and blockchain. However these remain at best only enablers; they are not the endgame.

The growing divide between the digitally engaged patient and the doctor community that is slower to embrace digital innovation requires urgent attention. If the divide is not addressed, incumbents won’t realise the promised value; empowered consumers and non-incumbents will redefine the game.” 

EY Future of Health Survey respondent

2018

 

Moving towards personalised participatory healthcare

The convergence of digitally empowered consumers, technological advancements at unprecedented scale and the entrance of non-traditional competitors in the sector is shifting the focus from “reducing cost and time spent” — an optimisation play to “a more personalised participatory health ecosystem” — a re-imagination of health and care as we know it.

Australia has a first-class health system, ranked as one of the most efficient in the world, and at number eight globally for outcomes, cost and value in 2018. But, while we are living longer the rise in chronic illness means we are not necessarily living better. For many, this means a lifelong relationship with the healthcare system. This relationship will need to be built upon trust and supportive engagement along with a commitment from providers to deliver exemplary patient experience.

Participatory health, or supporting consumers to make smarter choices and pursue responsible behaviours, is a profoundly disruptive force for change in the healthcare system. And yet, understanding and valuing the end-to-end journey of patient experience of healthcare has received little attention. Described as “the blockbuster drug of the century” as far back as 2013, increasing patient engagement has long been part of health industry rhetoric. But, the industry has been slow to shift from asking “what is the matter?” to “what matters to you?”

Patient satisfaction is a judgment about whether expectations were met. Patient experience, on the other hand, is an expression of what patients value, including sentiment and the emotional experience of their care, convenience, ease of navigation, responsiveness of staff, coordination between providers and involvement in decision making.
EY Future of Health Survey respondent

For doctors, almost all realise they need a new model to survive in the digitised ecosystem. To some extent, their attitudes mirror those of consumers: they believe consumers sharing health and lifestyle information will benefit patient care through improved transparency and more personalised care.

But many doctors fear being overwhelmed by a sharp increase in expectations and demand, driven by abundance of data and burgeoning consumer devices. They are concerned that their workload will increase with an inflow of vast amounts of patient-generated data, considered unreliable and unhelpful by many. Further, the doctors surveyed have relatively low levels of digital adoption. Technologies that augment clinical expertise and current processes as well as secure communications with other providers are being adopted but at a slow pace. 

How do online diagnostics and virtual care models fit?

Virtual care models are at an early stage of maturity. A number of doctors consider virtual care models as an opportunity to deliver greater productivity if the reimbursement mechanism was adapted to the new reality. In the next decade, both consumers and doctors see technologies that systematise care delivery systems and processes such as AI, case management and care delivery pathways becoming commonplace.

The management of clinical conditions such as chronic, complex diseases will likely be underpinned by digital technologies that enable remote teams to care for people in their homes. Clinically-oriented technologies such as AI-assisted diagnostics, imaging analysis and medication management, and precision medicine are expected to become part of the core-business of medicine. According to the EY survey, doctors are not planning to be fast adopters of new digital health technologies in their practice/ workplace.

Of the eight digital health technologies mentioned, less than 50 per cent of doctors plan to introduce any of the technologies mentioned in the next three years. This is a serious challenge for the sector as a whole. A growing digital divide between the consumer-patient and doctor will come at a high cost to all and the community. Failing to act with urgency and in a systematic manner will make our healthcare system more costly per outcome delivered and will constrain Australia’s ability to provide sustainable health services that meet the needs of our ageing population. 

Summary

With an estimated AU$8.5 billion over the next five years at stake, the health industry must look at how to balance cost and time imperatives with a growing demand from consumer-patients to be more engaged in creating a bespoke system of care, in person and through the increasingly sophisticated use of an individual's data and analytics. 

About this article

Authors

David Roberts

EY Global Health Leader

Leads global team working for clients in health. Passionate about how consumers change the way healthcare is designed, delivered and funded. Long distance biker – metaphorically and actually.

Jenny Parker

EY Oceania Health and Life Sciences Leader

Improving health services sustainability strategies. Two wonderful children. Avid walker and baker.

Gerald Marion

EY Strategy and Innovation Realized Partner and EY Asia-Pacific Innovation Solution Lead

Experienced strategy and customer innovation professional. Long-term passion for realizing strategic value of innovation. Believes in giving back. Active player in the higher education sector.