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The Big Shift in Healthcare—Is Medtech Ready to Help?

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‘Healthcare at home should be on every nonsurgical company’s mind,’ according to a healthcare executive speaking during MedExecWomen’s Spring event.

As hospitals emerge from pandemic crisis mode, they may be focusing once again on efforts to improve overall patient outcomes while reducing healthcare costs. Interestingly, thanks to telehealth and remote patient monitoring tools that supported home-based healthcare during the pandemic, healthcare systems now have a clearer idea on how to treat some patients at home, perhaps more routinely and cost effectively. Could there be an opportunity for medtech companies to support such a shift in healthcare?

Healthcare costs and quality came up during the recent panel discussion organized by MedExecWomen, “What Hospital C-Suite Pain Points Can MedTech Address in 2021/22?” It featured healthcare executives Alan Levine, CEO of Ballad Health; and Amy L. Bush, COO of WVU Medicine Children's Hospital. It was the first of a two-part series on the “4P's of MedTech: Physicians, Providers, Payers, and Patients.” (Part two, “The 4P’s of Medtech: Financial Analysts Respond,” will take place on October 26th in Boston.)

Levine said that Ballad Health, which serves Northeast Tennessee, Southwest Virginia, Northwest North Carolina, and Southeast Kentucky, is focusing on total cost of care as well as on home health. “We’re really focused on total cost of care, deeply invested in risk-based models. There are many primary care groups that pay a lot of attention to total cost of care,” he explained. He also pointed out “the technology movement towards home-based models,” saying, “We have a home health agency that serves the whole region. During COVID we had over 1000 patients who were able to avoid hospital admissions by keeping them in their homes, monitoring them at home, and having virtual visits with our physicians. And that’s not going to go away,” he said. “What are the technologies that support healthcare at home because payers are increasingly interested.”

Levine also noted that “hospitals, if they want to survive, have to find a way to reduce their cost structure—devices that help workflow, improve efficiency, and reduce the time in the OR are very attractive to us. Everything that will reduce cost structures is very attractive to us. We just entered into two co-management agreements with our orthopedic and general surgeons. More than half the incentive that I’m paying them is tied to reducing supply costs. The dynamic is shifting, and we can now incentivize doctors to help us reduce supply costs and the total cost of care.”

Bush discussed technology innovations for dealing with COVID, such as a virtual waiting room, as well as looking at home monitoring to prevent readmissions. She also expressed hope for a less-transactional mindset and a shift toward interoperability and improving patient health overall. She also pointed out the need to serve very rural locations. “Maybe you need preventive care so that you don’t get sick. We have a lot of states that could benefit from that. Socioeconomic disparities just don’t allow many people to come to the hospital. That shift to wellness and prevention would be really helpful,” she said.

The bottom line is that “Healthcare at home should be on every nonsurgical company’s mind,” said Levine. “In risk-based models, the low-hanging fruit is gone and [efforts] are now moving into higher-acuity patients who could be managed at home.”

And Bush added that she’d “love to see industry help us shift the paradigm to preventive care.”

Maria Shepherd, MedExecWomen co-founder and president of Medi-Vantage, later noted that “the site of care is shifting and so are the strategies to manage it. This is an enormous opportunity for the MedTech community because we’ve been given a vision of change and with that vision, we can create new and disruptive technologies to improve healthcare outcomes and reduce costs."

For more insights, check out part-two of the series, the “4P's of MedTech: Physicians, Providers, Payers, and Patients; Financial Analysts Respond,” which will be part of MedExecWomen’s face-to-face meeting on October 26. Sign up at https://medexecwomen.org/ to learn the details.

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