A couple of things are clear:
- Above all else, cost pressures will rule – the amount of money available for healthcare will be spread much thinner.
- For those people who will experience higher co-pays under the ACA than what they are used to, this will make the patient think twice about whether a certain procedure is really needed.
Firstly, you can’t have innovation before the infrastructure is ready to support it. Products that address workflows that are already happening but take steps out of the process are tops on my list. As an example, consider why healthcare is the only industry that strongly supports pagers anymore – it’s a convoluted way of getting things done. Eliminating pagers with a more open form of communication that let’s providers see the conversation that is taking place about a patient’s care by the staff will save steps. If we can do this in a way that securely crosses the provider to consumer continuum, firewall and such then we’ve sped things along by eliminating some steps.
Secondly, products that push responsibilities for care upstream also take steps out of the process. We’ve seen a lot of consumer healthcare products with emphasis on tracking, early detection as well as preventive life-styles education over the last couple of years - most have not gained sufficient traction despite elegant and clearly beneficial outcomes. Just as we saw the abolition of stenographers who would type letters for “Mad Men” era executives by putting word processors on every desktop, we’ll see more of this in healthcare. Physicians will delegate more to their assistants, nurses and yet to be defined technicians so all can work where there’s more money - at the top of their license. This will cascade down to where today’s patient will be tomorrow’s PCP (Primary Care Person) and products that compress this process by providing the infrastructure to eliminate steps will be the winners. Home, mobile, remote care and triage products that help the patient decide when to seek medical help and from who will again be the winners.
These are transformative innovations rather than disruptive and have always had a high degree of success. If new technology does not have an economic benefit as well as patient, physician, staff or procedural benefit it will have a very strong barrier to entry let alone get past value analysis committees. Those who are trying to introduce a completely new method will face uphill battles.