Regardless of your role in the healthcare ecosystem—whether a health system, clinician, payer or patient—each segment faces indisputable challenges to advancing healthcare posed by three transformational areas: digital health, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and financial health.
Advancing healthcare in these three areas, however, requires reconciling disparate experiences, beliefs and priorities surrounding this ever-shifting terrain. Healthcare leaders must confront a variety of pressing questions: How to expand digital health options for younger generations craving them while satisfying older patients who don’t? Promote the benefits of AI/ML while cementing trust in data collection? Balance challenges to the bottom line while remaining sensitive to rising operational costs? And, perhaps most importantly: How to wisely invest limited time and resources?
The 2021 State of Healthcare Report, which surveyed more than 2,700 health systems, clinicians, payers and patients in the United States, helped sharpen which issues in these three realms resonate with each segment. These insights can help leaders bridge gaps in understanding and drive data-driven changes that serve each group more comprehensively.
Each segment reported decidedly different viewpoints.
Health systems are conflicted regarding change in healthcare. Perceiving digital health to be integral, they plan to advance these initiatives long term. But efforts to implement AI/ML are still fairly nascent, with the majority of health systems running only pilot programs, early-stage efforts or nothing at all. Fee-for-service continues to be their dominant revenue source. AI/ML tools should be refined to enhance precision health approaches in coming years without creating more work for clinicians and health systems, said Nirav Vakharia, MD, president of the Cleveland Clinic Medicare Accountable Care Organization and associate chief for Cleveland Clinic’s value-based operations.
Clinicians are accepting of technological change and satisfied overall with their financial health. The vast majority of have recommended digital tools to patients. They’re overwhelmingly open to using AI/ML technology, but many clinicians still haven’t received any training to do so—exposing a need to offer instruction and build trust in these tools. Most feel financially stable despite the impact of the pandemic.
Payers are embracing broad healthcare change. Most point to interoperability as a driver to enhance digital health adoption. Similarly, more than six in 10 consider improving AI/ML capabilities and driving adoption as extremely high priorities; more than half expect major healthcare payment reforms over coming years. “Value-based care is better at predicting how people behave, and that’s where AI and machine learning can be powerful tools,” said HIMSS Global Health Equity Network member Abner Mason, founder and CEO of ConsejoSano. “They can also help payers craft contracts that make sense for their organization, but also for the provider partners.”
Patients are deeply divided generationally on the necessity of telehealth, with 44% of millenials saying they’ll look to switch providers if this isn’t offered in the future, compared to just 14% of baby boomer and silent generation patients. Overwhelmingly, patients are willing to share health data to empower treatment benefits, and the vast majority also believe healthcare costs in the United States are too expensive.
Due to these diverse perspectives, one thing is clear: Healthcare leaders can benefit from strategic planning in digital health, AI/ML, and financial health. Here’s a rundown of some of the key findings in the 2021 State of Healthcare Report.
In the State of Healthcare Report, HIMSS and its Trust partners—Accenture, The Chartis Group and ZS—uncover healthcare barriers and offer key takeaways on current trends, opportunities and insights to drive real progress.