• Michael Misialek, MD

Healthcare's New Front Door is Here...and Open

A new survey sheds surprising details on how and where consumers are finding healthcare. Published by Oliver Wyman’s Health & Life Sciences practice, which serves clients in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, medical devices, provider, and payer sectors with strategic, operational, and organizational advice, they find consumers flocking to alternative healthcare access points.

"According to the survey:

  • More consumers are using alternative sites.

  • Many people find the experience at these sites better.

  • It’s not just the young and healthy who are open to alternative sites."

With consumers facing increasing premiums and deductibles, it is no wonder they are shopping for healthcare as they would a car. It is all about cost and convenience. The era of consumerism is here. Healthcare providers need to take notice.

For example, CVS's Minute Clinic has more than 1,100 locations in 33 states. Familiarity and use of alternative options to care such as retail, remote, virtual and telehealth is increasing. Those who visit such sites in drug stores, grocery stores and retail are more willing to return. Nearly 80% of those polled find these sites the same or better than traditional care locations, i.e. doctor's office or hospital. All age and income brackets are taking part.

The Affordable Care Act has brought new patients into the healthcare system. Coupled with the increasing number of access points into the system and patient's desire and need to find affordable care, a perfect storm is looming.

Providers must be ready to operate in this environment. Pathologists are no exception. There will be increased demands on laboratories faced with an influx of patients. An emphasis on preventative care will thrust pathologists into new roles. Ensuring quality testing, pathologist's skill set will expand to that of population health. Assisting in the care of chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and heart disease, pathologists can be thought of as a new kind of primary care physician.

As medical directors for laboratories, pathologists are able to assist their clinical colleagues with establishing and monitoring performance metrics and incentives. These new opportunities will be opened up by this new front door of healthcare.

According to Oliver Wyman's report: "Coordinating care is easy to say, hard to do. Systems have to get it right — connecting with and transferring information among the various new front-door access points to create a truly integrated experience. Traditional health system thinking will be an encumbrance here; systems must start with consumer needs and hassles in mind."

For instance, CVS has partnered with 70 health systems across the country. They are leveraging Epic electronic medical records to help coordinate care across communities, states and the country. Pathologists are crucial to this seamless flow of information.

The new front door is here. Consumers have spoken. Providers must listen. In order to provide value in this new reality, innovation will be key. Effective coordination and communication among care teams and patients will be essential. Opportunity abounds for pathologists.

#MinuteClinic #telehealth #alternativecare #value #pathology

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