As health care continues to transform this year, executives will face challenges related to finances, technology, workforce and other areas. Across the field, thought leaders have been busy offering their best guesses, insights and predictions for how this year is likely to shake out. Here is what caught our attention.
1 | Align your digital health strategy as legacy systems are sunset.
Many health care organizations are at the midpoint of their digital transformation and most leaders expect that the continued adoption of digital tools will impact their 2024 strategy, notes a recent Deloitte survey of providers and payers. Organizations should focus on integrating components across their facilities. Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to address issues like increasing access, reducing wait times and minimizing administrative burdens on clinicians.
Bill Fera, M.D., a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP, urges organizations to incorporate generative AI in parallel with other technologies as they retire legacy hardware and transition to the digital realm. This will be important as consumers turn to generative AI to help make decisions about their health and well-being, locate clinicians, learn about medical conditions and understand treatment options.
Moving to a single digital system and sunsetting others can be disruptive, expensive and time-consuming. But as generative AI matures, we could begin to see measurable improvements in everything from higher efficiency levels to better consumer experiences across all facets of health care, Deloitte explains.
2 | Expand the role of community health workers (CHWs).
As organizations increasingly adopt models that address both clinical and nonclinical aspects of patient needs, CHWs are poised to play a pivotal role in enhancing quality, facilitating care coordination, alleviating provider burdens and fostering trust among patients, Cheryl Pegus, M.D., managing director of Morgan Health Ventures, stated in a recent Forbes report.
Projections indicate a 14% growth in employment of CHWs from 2022 to 2032, Pegus notes. This shift reflects a strategic response to workforce challenges, underscoring the vital contribution of expanded roles within health care teams.
3 | Be creative when building and retaining your workforce.
More and more providers are negotiating contracts that include a weekday off and hybrid work from home (e.g., telehealth) and clinic models, Samantha L. Prokop, head of the health care transactions team at the Gunster, Yoakley & Stewart law firm, wrote recently.
While salaries are important, so is culture, Prokop noted. Forward-thinking leaders will do their research and listen to their employees to determine how to retain and attract talent.
4 | Develop sticky relationships with consumers.
Medical inflation, combined with rising coverage costs, could leave consumers with higher out-of-pocket costs this year, Deloitte says. Consumers are at the heart of health care’s shift from consolidation and fragmentation to convergence, and many tend to make purchasing decisions based on price and convenience.
When consumers can receive an online product order in a day or less from retailers, many are frustrated when they must wait weeks or months for a medical appointment. Deloitte’s research on trust shows that about half of focus group participants said they would be willing to trade in-person visits and the convenience of a closer location for a provider who relates to them and understands their needs.
Provider organization leaders have an opportunity to influence the decisions of health care consumers by providing digital tools that can help them navigate their health care journey. Offering more affordable care options such as telehealth can help to ensure that patients continue to receive necessary care. Cracking that code could increase stickiness and loyalty.
(Reprinted with permission from AHA Center for Health Innovation. For additional reading and resources: engage with AHA Center for Innovation.)