Perhaps in the history of music, one of the most important days is the day Elvis Presley died - August 16, 1977. He, along with this day, is remembered still. Not as well remembered is October 28th, 1956 - the day he got vaccinated against polio.
On October 28, 1956, Elvis Presley - the King of Rock and Roll, made a significant impact on healthcare by getting a polio vaccination on national TV. He appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show and was given an unexpected challenge - would he get a polio shot on national television, in front of the press? He did, and this act of his played a significant role in bringing up the immunization levels in the U.S. to over 80% from a minuscule 0.6%, in just six months.
For a country that spends more than $10,345 per person per year on healthcare, the outcomes which depict 7 out of every 10 deaths due to chronic conditions don't make sense. Few healthcare executives would disagree that healthcare is getting progressively consolidated, regulated, and systematized. If one steps back and looks at the big picture of healthcare, the goal is clear - to improve health outcomes, it is the route that is not.
A good, hard look at healthcare
Over the last two decades, healthcare has seen several exciting developments in the field of medicine, data storage and exchange, care delivery, and even the influx of artificial intelligence for process automation. And yet, the rest of the healthcare iceberg is only slowly being revealed. Be it security and safety issues, increased waste or unhealthy lifestyle choices; the overall US health care spending is expected to shoot up from 17.1% to 20% of GDP by 2022. There are more indicators of the lack of sustained incremental improvements in healthcare:
- More than 100 million people in the U.S. are diagnosed with at least one chronic condition, and chronic care management alone accounts for 75% of all healthcare costs.
- At least 30% of lower-income adults still face financial barriers to care, miles behind the average proportion of 10% of lower-income adults in other developed economies.
If left unaddressed or even challenged, these and other newer upcoming hurdles will only add to the complications in healthcare and threaten to hijack even larger portions of the national economy.
A fresh approach
For a while now, healthcare has been dominated by the visit-based care delivery model i.e. where patients interact with providers in person, in a brick-and-mortar setting- clinic, hospital, emergency room. However, with an increasing focus on delivering value in care and adopting a patient-centric approach, these traditional methods are becoming infeasible.
Providers do understand the challenges ahead of them, and on paper, the solutions sound great. They're aware of the mounds of data available to them and an estimate of how the challenges should be countered. Still the moment, the act that would change the course of action and create a value-chain in healthcare is yet to happen. Perhaps Elvis was approached to provide publicity and dazzle the media to make things right; he did manage to close in on the "immunization gap."
In the same way- the intent may be to redefine care and revolutionize healthcare, the end goal is to improve access to care, build and deploy remote patient monitoring methods, bring patients and their families into the care-giving loop. With all of this, there is also a need for a class of technology that is capable of addressing and eliminating gaps in this more holistic process.
Waiting for the big game changer in healthcare
Front-line physicians, healthcare executives, federal officials, patients - just about anyone even remotely connected to healthcare recognizes the need for transformation to improve care and create cost-saving efficiencies.
Not long ago, a value-focused organization in the Midwest managed to save more than 10 hours per week through carefully managed care coordination and achieved 100% accuracy in Risk Stratification via CMS-HCC for Medicare population and HHS-HCC for commercial population. This instance alone solidifies the commitment of healthcare providers towards value-based care, but the BIG, disruptive moment is yet to happen.
What Elvis did was a kind of a PR coup, and it would be more than easy to conclude that behind this move, was a simple reason - Elvis was an emerging superstar and had a huge fan base across the country. What people overlook is that Elvis counted on the physicians and made a silent statement - that the Salk vaccine was safe to use. Elvis wasn't a physician, and neither did he pretend, but he certainly believed in them. He believed in the insights of the physicians and inevitable changes healthcare had to undergo from time to time - without which healthcare would be a wild goose chase.
For a country spending the lion's share of its economy on healthcare, there is immense pressure to cut costs and improve quality. Something revolutionary that not only promises better care for patients but dramatically improves financial performance for healthcare organizations and give providers a sense of satisfaction about their jobs. A step that combines the expertise of providers and actionable technology to bring the continuum of care to a full circle.
Is it time for a disruptive and transformational Elvis Presley moment yet? Perhaps.
Abhinav Shashank, Co-Founder & CEO at Innovaccer, is an expert in population health management and robust technologies. For the better part of the decade he has been working to revolutionize healthcare delivery with 25+ value-focused organization and making over 10 million lives better.