In the U.S., there are key tenets for which we are reshaping our healthcare ecosystem: Quality, Outcomes, Cost (Efficiencies and ROI), and Accessibility. As I continue to interface with healthcare organizations around the world, the same challenges exist. At varying levels, whether a Country has a nationalized/universal healthcare program (Japan, UK, Taiwan) a largely privatized healthcare program (U.S.), or a hybrid model (Singapore), key stakeholders are all faced with addressing fundamental issues – driving down cost, making healthcare more accessible, finding ways to improve patient outcomes, and ultimately improving the quality of care for their citizens.
These past few weeks I’ve had the honor of presenting at the Connected Health Asia Conference in Singapore and to the Japan Pharmaceutical Manufacturer’s Association in Tokyo. A few overarching themes pervaded most of my discussions:
1. How can we reduce costs while increasing access;
2. How can we empower patients (and caregivers) to become more involved in their own healthcare decisions and provide incentives for behavioral change; and
3. How can we help private, NGO, and participatory organizations realize positive financial ROI through investments in the “betterment” of healthcare.
Japan, for instance, is facing an interesting dilemma. Unlike many of its peer countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the population of Japan is aging, its overall population is expected to decline (from 130mil to 80mil by 2050) and many patient populations are facing chronic disease conditions for the first time. There is intense pressure to reduce medical care costs and increase the quality of life (for its aging population), so a keen focus is on prevention, screening, and the early detection of illness to prevent the costly treatment of chronic diseases. With a fragmented, and often viewed upon as “not so great” provider based system, many challenges exist. However, the opportunity to overcome these challenges remains bold. Japan has some of the highest mobile adoption rates by consumers in the world, as well as some of the highest rates of adoption of mobile devices by HCP’s in the world (nearly 78% according to a 2012 McKinsey survey). As a result, there is an emphasis on developing mobile enabled tools, resources, and applications that can enhance the patient-provider relationship and financially empower patients to take charge of their own health.
While the U.S. also faces an aging population and an increased rate of chronic diseases, the U.S. Veteran’s Department of Health Administration has done an admirable job of leveraging technology to enhance the patient-provider relationship. Dr. Richard Stark, the director of primary care operations for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, leads the largest “Integrated” healthcare system in the U.S. with over eight million veterans. The Patient Aligned Care Teams (PACT), a personalized and proactive patient-driven approach to the delivery of care, incorporates many facets of technology, such as an integrated EMR, telehealth programs, and the deployment of mobile enabled resources. Since the integration of these resources into the PACT program, impressive results have been recognized: acute hospital visits to VHA facilities have decreased by 5%, 600,000 patients have opted into secure messaging, and 148,385 patients have been treated through telehealth programs across 44 clinical specialties.
As costs continue to rise and burdens continue to shift, there are yet dozens of examples of where technology has led to improved, more cost efficient healthcare ecosystems. The key is to be able to collect this global knowledge and apply, in each region with the specificity that meets each market demand, the best practices, key leanings, and proven methods of delivery that will help improve our global citizens quality of life, once country at a time.