Three Transformative Healthcare Tensions

Waiting until later to make even the smallest change in healthcare will be waiting too long. With $2.7 trillion spent annually on healthcare in the U.S., and $1.1 trillion of that wasted without improving the healthcare experiences or outcomes, the current model is no longer financially sound or viable. To make the need for change even more stark, 80% of these exorbitant costs are going to only 20% of the population.

Cost isn’t the only factor prompting this desire for change. The amount of people dying from medical errors and hospital-acquired infections is insurmountable – 187,000 people in the U.S. and 30,000 people in Canada alone.

It’s fair to say no one is satisfied with this equation. Clinicians, policy makers, patients, and even loved ones all seem to be addressing healthcare from one angle or another, looking for ways to raise the bar and make it a bit “better”. This, in turn, is leading to a radical transformation in healthcare, a transformation that’s already underway.

The future of healthcare

So how do we connect these eye-opening stats to the intended outcome of transforming and improving healthcare? Rob Heitmeier, general manager of Steelcase Health, believes it begins by looking at three primary tensions – the tensions between today’s reality and tomorrow’s promise.

Let’s take a deeper look at these tensions, how they evolved, and where to go from here:

Tension 1: A shift from a volume-based model to a value-based model. Taking hints from accountable care models, preventative care and a focus on HCAHPS, we realize healthcare is no longer about how many patients are treated. Instead, it will be about “providing successful outcomes and creating satisfying experiences,” as Heitmeier states. While challenging and definitely a shift, the true value will lie in the inevitable innovation in care that will arise.

Tension 2: Healthcare participants are shifting from a passive to a more active role in their care. Tech-savvy patients have more information than ever at their fingertips. They are no longer relying solely on their clinician’s word. Instead, they are doing their own research, asking questions and, at times, even bringing their own data to appointments. Additionally, Heitmeier states we’re moving away from “intensive interactions punctuated with unproductive waiting or transition times that drain emotional resources and waste the precious resource of time.” The movement, as he states,  is moving toward a healthcare experience where there is active participation in learning and collaborative decision-making by all involved, patients, families, and clinicians.

Tension 3: Siloed healthcare processes are becoming more open, characterized by collaborative interactions. Healthcare is moving from disconnected, complicated processes that inhibit behavior change, to collaborative, democratic modes that fuel better outcomes. As we’ve discussed in several posts (The Age of Digital Healthcare, Adapting to EMRs and EHRs, and Technology in Healthcare), technology is making healthcare processes more mobile and connected, yet at times can be disruptive to the process.

Improving the equation

“Given these three tensions, it stands to reason that the new reality of the healthcare journey needs to be highly integrated,” continues Heitmeier. “By providing a healthcare system that facilitates connections between patients, families, and clinicians, we can simultaneously empower people to take control of their journey, and their health in general.”

Within the turmoil of all of these changing dynamics, healthcare organizations face challenges that are greater than ever, including total cost management, revenue generation, health outcomes, and patient satisfaction.

“These changing dynamics are having a profound impact on the patients, families and clinicians who are navigating new roles. Over the past 10 years, Steelcase Health has conducted 18 studies involving 15,000 hours of observation that have yielded new insights about the healthcare journey,” says Jason Vanderground, brand manager for Steelcase Health.

Stay tuned during the month of February as we provide an overview of these exciting insights, helping to better define how the application of place can work in tandem with a positive healthcare experience.  So keep reading, and share your thoughts.

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Read Rob Heitmeier’s entire Perspective on the future of healthcare in Time for Change; Positive Disruption to the Medical Cocoon

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