HIMSS23: Best Buy Health, VillageMD execs see collaboration as critical to future of healthcare

Companies like Best Buy and VillageMD are disrupting the traditional healthcare industry by bringing a more consumer-centric approach to providing medical services.

During a keynote address Wednesday morning at HIMSS23, executives at these so-called "disrupters" shared their vision for the future of care delivery.

The pandemic changed healthcare forever. The pace of tech innovation accelerated, and new possibilities formed on the horizon. New players, too, came on the scene. Retail clinics, hospital at home programs and virtual care providers are seizing on the opportunity to collaborate and evolve traditional healthcare settings. 

Speaking on the panel were Andrea Walsh, CEO of HealthPartners, an integrated care system in Minnesota; Tim Barry, CEO of VillageMD; and Deborah DiSanzo, president of Best Buy Health. 

All three agreed that the current healthcare system is broken. “We’re not thinking enough like a system,” Barry said.

U.S. healthcare is “a collection of solutions,” Walsh echoed. In its current siloed, fragmented state, it will continue to fail patients. What’s needed instead is a holistic, collaborative approach to care.

“People need healthcare to be simpler to access and more affordable,” Walsh noted. As a multispecialty group, HealthPartners leverages its practice, health plan and research institute to offer integrated care.

“As a healthcare delivery system, we have been too focused on ourselves and our own operations and our own productivity and our own efficiency,” Barry said. “We’ve not thought about the individual.” 

To expand its reach into multispecialty care, VillageMD picked up medical practice Summit Health last fall for $9 billion, creating one of the largest independent provider groups in the country. Another way of breaking down silos is by operating in value-based care, Barry noted. Trying to optimize silos in fee-for-service is misguided, because the payment model in itself is a conglomerate of silos. Value-based care allows for what’s really important to patients, like more frequent touch points with their care team, Barry said.

While tech should support care delivery at the right place and the right time, the panelists agreed, it cannot get in the way of patient care. Multiple point solutions in an EHR, for instance, will only add to clinicians’ burden.

Best Buy Health works with providers like Atrium Health to power home care. “We’re bringing what we’ve done in computer electronics for years into health,” DiSanzo said. The company’s ultimate goal is to make the tech disappear, operating smoothly behind the scenes, so what is front and center is provider and patient. 

Tech companies must listen to providers when serving them, DiSanzo said. To build trust and buy-in, they must offer visibility into their methods. For instance, providers want to know where given data come from, what algorithm is being employed to train a device and who is training the model in order to feel good about letting it work for them.

Today, too many companies competing in the market win at the expense of patients, Barry said, and that needs to change. “Not everyone can win,” Barry noted. “We’re failing the American public that way.”