My wife, Kerry, recently returned from a 10-day cycling trip in Italy, staying in a beautiful hotel near Tuscany that caters to professional cycling teams. Kerry’s group typically rode 50 to 70 miles each day through the countryside, culminating in a grueling 120-mile “gran fondo” with more than 12,000 feet of climbing. A highlight of the trip was when she watched at the finish line of one of the stages of the Giro d’Italia, a premier cycling race, along with the Tour de France and the Vuelta a Espana.
While she was away, the boys and I got by as best we could, frequently falling back on the loneliness exception to our “no bad dessert” rule. One evening, ice cream sundaes in hand, we watched TV coverage of the Giro d’Italia. In most competitive cycling races, you can watch as the peloton – the main pack of riders from all teams – moves along together. Riders do this to save energy by remaining close. At some point, a “breakaway” group emerges. In it, competing riders have to work together, leading or drafting off each other to maintain their distance from the pack. Ultimately, there is a winner at the finish line, but in a multi-stage race, those who finish before the peloton still gain advantage, even if they do not win the stage.
This concept struck me recently while I led a panel discussion with representatives from organizations that are often viewed as competitors in health care: a large health plan, a health care system, a pharmaceutical company, and a former government leader. In the traditional fee-for-service environment, success for one often comes at the expense of another. However, as progressive organizations focus on outcomes and react to the government’s priorities for value-based care, they have created remarkable synergies in their approach to the market.
The upcoming Deloitte Center for Health Solutions paper, The convergence of health care trends: Innovation strategies for emerging opportunities, outlines four colliding trends that are changing the health care landscape. New technologies, a demand for value, the growing health economy, and influential government policies are creating growth opportunities and pushing health care organizations to innovate. Like the peloton that creates both forward momentum as well as some dramatic collisions for riders, these converging trends will create opportunities and challenges for innovation among industry stakeholders.
In particular four significant areas rise to the surface:
- The shift from the traditional health care facility to “Everywhere care”
- Wellness and preventive care
- Personalized care
- Aging, chronic, and end-of-life care
“Innovation plays” that leverage all four of these colliding trends to utilize new technology, expand delivery options and access, improve patient experiences, and form industry partnerships may help organizations gain a competitive edge in the changing health care landscape. For example, an organization seeking to capitalize on the challenge of wellness and preventive care could simplify and integrate the “monitored self” by harnessing a platform that aggregates consumer data from point-of-care devices and consumer actions, and seamlessly integrates them into the care system. Similarly, the shift to personalized care could create an opportunity for organizations to develop combinations of treatment, diagnostic, and care protocols that are optimized for impact and ease of use based on individuals’ specific needs. Successful implementation of these programs will likely require collaboration across many industry stakeholders.
As the industry begins to tackle these innovation plays, there will be some tough uphill climbs. Connectivity is an area that all stakeholders are facing. One of the panelists said that while he believes that collaboration among the multiple stakeholders is challenging, it is doable. He cautioned that if 12 individual health plans designed their own proprietary systems, then there will be 12 that no one uses. Many organizations are already realizing this. These are the organizations that are breaking away from the peloton of the larger health care system and working in parallel with each other to differentiate themselves from the pack and address the needs of health care consumers.
The future of health care will likely be based on collaboration among competitors across the system, where everyone has the same shared capabilities and data standards. This may require some individual entities to invest in tools for population management, even if it benefits other organizations in the system. Along the way, members should be at the center of these initiatives and their data should be a tool to move toward value based care.
Ultimately, there will still be winners and losers. Just as in the Giro, leaders emerge and aggressively sprint to the finish to win the stage just ahead of the others in the breakaway. But by working together, they all finish ahead of the pack.