Several familiar themes emerged at the J.P. Morgan Annual Healthcare Conference in San Francisco last week, affirming the growing influence of patient consumerism and the importance of leveraging technology to reduce costs and improve care. Highlights provide an early glimpse into the early stages of healthcare’s transformation in America.
The 2020 JP Morgan Healthcare Conference took place in San Francisco last week. One of the largest and most influential events focused on the business of healthcare, the conference brings together leaders from across healthcare and financial companies to explore emerging ideas and technologies and learn from some of the industry’s most innovative and successful practitioners.
Last year, we published an analysis of conference highlights based on insightful commentary from Dan Michelson, CEO of Strata Decision Technology writing for Becker’s Hospital Review. In 2020, Mr. Michelson and Becker’s have again published what I consider the definitive JPM2020 summary titled “The top 10 questions from the 2020 J. P. Morgan Healthcare Conference that every CEO must answer.”
Based on my own experiences at this year’s event, the Becker’s summary presents an excellent starting point for Loyale’s analysis of emerging practices and products affecting hospital finances. Most particularly, the constituency with the greatest influence over hospital financial performance - patients.
The Future is Already Here
In his analysis, Mr. Michelson dismisses the notion that this year’s conference was merely “more of the same”. Quoting futurist William Gibson, he points out that “The future is already here - it’s just not evenly distributed.” At Loyale Healthcare, our experience in working with some of healthcare’s largest and most successful companies attests to that simple truth.
The markets, technologies, practices, policies and ideas that will transform healthcare are all present - even if nascent. The challenge now is for healthcare providers to identify the path forward that works best for them and their patients. Unless and until that transformation begins to take shape, I expect these themes will continue to dominate the conversation in healthcare.
Last year our analysis, “Creating the Frictionless Healthcare Platform” presented a readiness checklist designed to help hospitals and health systems evaluate their preparedness for a more expansive, consumer-friendly way to do business. The promise of Platform-based business models was prominent again at this year’s event, with the Mayo Clinic being singled out for its strategic decision to embrace the platform model.
The first Mayo platform initiative, as described in this recent article, is the launch of its new Clinical Data Analytics Platform. The first of what Mayo envisions will be many platform-based initiatives, the AI platform will “apply advanced analytics on deidentified data from across Mayo and other organizations and comb scientific literature to gain insights into new treatments that could improve patients’ outcomes.”
The potential of a platform-based business model is not confined to clinical disciplines. From an operating standpoint, platforms hold great promise for the transformation of hospital administration and finance. The Loyale Healthcare platform is one example. Working with companies like HCA Healthcare and U.S. Anesthesia Partners, we’re integrating Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems with dozens of other healthcare technologies, leveraging data to help providers deliver seamless experiences to patients and staff. Platform outcomes include: improved patient engagement, lower operating costs, higher patient revenues and better overall operating performance across the enterprise. These systems all exist today, Loyale unifies them all in a single, user-optimized digital experience that drives results.
Are Healthcare Leaders Asking the Right Questions?
Mr. Michel’s analysis frames his observation of, and conversations at, the JPM2020 conference with ten questions shared by industry executives, many of which are embedded in this year’s conference content. These ten questions, along with our own qualifiers, follow:
- Will we think differently and truly leverage our platform? As discussed above, are we prepared to invest financially, culturally and strategically in the platform model? Do we believe platforms represent our best path to sustainable success?
- Market share: Are we leveraging a share of cup strategy? Are hospitals taking a big picture approach to knowing and serving “their markets?”
- Are we a holding company or an operating company? Are hospitals and health systems realizing the scale and benefits of mergers and acquisitions?
- Do we have employees or a team? How will hospitals overcome healthcare’s operating silos to develop an enterprise-wide, cross-disciplined approach to care?
- Physicians: Are our physicians optimistic or pessimistic? What are providers’ plans to overcome systemic flaws that can lead to burnout and turnover?
- Customer: Do we treat sick patients or care for consumers? Are providers practicing a B2B or B2C business? Are patient relationships a critically valuable business asset? The answer, if you don’t already know, is yes.
- Data: Will we make data liquid? How will you use data to understand your business, make better decisions and improve care and performance?
- Cost: Are we serious about reducing the cost of care and delivering value? How will you respond to the call for improved affordability?
- Capital: Do we have an “asset-light” strategy? Are there ways to leverage existing assets to broaden markets and deliver more services?
- Performance: Do we want our team to build a budget or improve performance? Are you wasting valuable time and effort on outdated, non-performing business practices? Are there better ways?
Each of these questions prompts crucial self-analysis for healthcare leaders and their teams. In my view, they’re the right questions. That’s partly because they reach across the industry and enterprises to address all of the most vexing issues facing healthcare. Also because these are precisely the kinds of questions that led Loyale’s clients to search for and select Loyale.
Because our domain expertise resides in the areas of healthcare revenue cycle and patient engagement, let’s take a closer look at questions 1, 3, 6 and 8, specifically as they pertain to patients’ financial experiences and provider financial outcomes.
Question one, “Will we think differently and truly leverage our platform?” is addressed above. Loyale clients are motivated by a desire to integrate disparate, disjointed systems and processes to deliver more holistic experiences that benefit team members and patients. Some are even exploring wider business implications for developing platform-enabled, revenue-generating shared services.
Question three, “Are we a holding company or an operating company?” addresses a frustration that’s all too common as consolidation in the healthcare industry continues to accelerate. The best results are achieved by providers who are ready to make the hard decisions, implementing enterprise-wide standards and protocols designed to improve efficiencies and drive growth. Loyale clients demonstrate this concept by implementing our platform technology across their entire ecosystems - delivering superior patient (and staff) financial experiences throughout each patient’s care journey - in every setting, every time.
Question six, “Do we treat sick patients or care for consumers?” confronts the largely transactional nature of provider-patient interactions. We’re all consumers of healthcare. Some more, some less. But when asked, most of us agree that, while the clinical dimension of care is usually good or even exceptional, when it comes to the administrative and financial dimensions of care, the experience deteriorates dramatically. With as many as half of Americans avoiding or delaying care because they’re afraid they can’t afford it, this egregious disconnect impairs a provider’s ability to compete for patients and to improve the probability of being paid for it. Healthcare is the only industry where the consumer lacks basic information to make informed decisions. Loyale clients are working to fix that. From pre-treatment price transparency to personalized, interactive payment plans, Loyale is making it possible for providers to connect with patients the way many of today’s most successful B2C companies connect with their customers.
Question eight, “Are we serious about reducing the cost of care and delivering value?” underscores something we have written about extensively over the last year. No healthcare-related issue has had a higher profile in the public eye than healthcare affordability and its adjacent issues - surprise medical bills and aggressive collection tactics. Despite the rhetoric of the current U.S. presidential campaign, few if any presenters or attendees at JPM2020 expressed any serious concern about the possibility of Medicare for All or some other single-payer model being adopted in the foreseeable future. Providers and the pharma industry, therefore, must find ways to improve efficiencies, leverage technology to reach more people at lower cost and employ data to continually sharpen operating practices. At Loyale, we’re working with healthcare enterprises and specialty providers to bring healthcare patient financial practices into the 21st century - with price transparency, interactive self-serve or full-service payment planning, patient financing and personalized digital communications on a clinically integrated “digital front door”. All so patients can get the care they need at a payment they can afford.
I am pleased to report that, based on our experiences with Loyale clients and with many of the forward-looking people I met with at this year’s J.P. Morgan Healthcare Conference, leaders are indeed asking the right questions. And the promising future whose elements are already present is slowly but surely coming into view. We’re proud to be a part of that vision and look forward to sharing our progress at JPM2021.