Capitalism will disrupt healthcare complacency, drive innovation

Creative thinking and financial competition can help drive innovative change in the U.S. healthcare system, James Hamblin wrote in a piece in The Atlantic.

Hamblin recounted moderating a panel discussion with Jonathan Bush, CEO of AthenaHealth; Toby Cosgrove, CEO of the Cleveland Clinic; Rushika Fernandopulle, CEO of Iora Health; and Dena Bravata, CMO of Castlight Health. For Bush, healthcare is a business, plain and simple--selling a product people want at a price they're willing to pay, according to the article.

Like any capitalist venture, the healthcare system must fail in order for people to innovate and reinvent the status quo, Hamblin writes. At Iora Health, the small company tries to fix healthcare from the bottom up, paying physicians a fixed fee for what they do, which allows them to care for a population and keep them healthy, said Fernandopulle. Each patient gets a health coach who reaches out through email and video chat to follow-up on care.

Cosgrove emphasized the importance of specialty medicine, and moving patients to expert physicians rather than to sub-specialized experts everywhere, according to the article. He also said America had too many hospitals and the future of healthcare is outside of those facilities.

When large hospitals overcharge for basic procedures, they create inefficiency, complacency and maintain the status quo, and using outdated technology like pagers drives customers to a more tech savvy group like Iora Health, Bush said. And despite demand from patients for more attention, doctors spend minimal time on face-to-face interaction with them, leaving them wanting something more.

It's up to entrepreneurs and healthcare disrupters to create alternative solutions to their own care, Bush argued. For example, if someone wanted to start their own MRI business that cost them $25,000 a month, they could break even by charging $28 per MRI if they did three scans an hour, 12 hours a day. Massachusetts General Hospital bills the same procedure to an insured patient for $5,315.

Another healthcare innovation is how hospitals and health systems use health information technology to streamline care and tackle waste and spending, Naomi Allen, vice president of strategic alliances at Castlight Health, said at the inaugural Castlight Enterprise Healthcare Cloud Summit in New York City, Forbes reported.

Healthcare quality is also crucial in transforming the care system, panelists at the event agreed. How both providers and patients use health IT to measure quality and make informed decisions will have huge implications in the future, according to the article. 

To learn more:
- here's The Atlantic article 
- read the Forbes piece