PwC: Technology a linchpin to primary care's future

Technology will be one of the key drivers when it comes to "revving" up the role of primary care, according to a recent PwC report.

The report looks to the future of the healthcare economy, and the makeover primary care needs as the industry moves from a fee-for-service system to one based on value.

For the report, PwC interviewed 25 executives from healthcare, trade associations and academia; researchers also surveyed 1,500 clinicians and 1,000 consumers on the future of primary care.

Some of the findings from the report in the health IT space include:

  • The new face of primary care should be "predicated on technology-enabled care teams, new care sites, data-driven decisions and superior customer service."
  • Competing with newcomers to the industry will require new tools and changing business models to support things like virtual visits. In fact, PwC says 51 percent of clinicians responding to its survey are providing telemedicine to compete with new players like retail health clinics. To that end, Walgreens recently announced its mobile telehealth system is now available in 25 states, which shows the kind of growth retail clinics have in that area.
  • New business models are beginning to include tech to make administrative processes like scheduling and billing simpler
  • "Hispanics will be primary care's consumer mavericks in the New Health Economy," the surveys authors say. That population has adopted mobile health at a faster rate, and are three times more likely to use the tools to engage with their care than non-Hispanics

In addition, the future of healthcare must have providers focusing on helping people live healthier lives, instead of just providing care, according to Mayo Clinic Center for Innovation Medical Director Douglas Wood.

Technology, such as wearables, will play a big role in achieving that goal, Wood said at the recent HIMSS Connected Health Summit. They will enable doctors to provide advice based, not on prescriptive treatments from a traditional model, but rather on collaborations with patients.

To learn more:
- here's the report

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