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New Healthcare Technology from Tech Firms Could Solve Problems

Consumers believe that technology companies not currently in the healthcare industry could be disruptive by offering new healthcare technology and other innovations to solve some of the industry’s biggest problems.

healthcare technology

Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- Consumers believe that technology companies not currently in the healthcare industry could be disruptive by offering new healthcare technology and other innovations to solve some of the industry’s biggest problems.  

In fact, more than half of 1,501 consumer surveyed by PwC said they were confident that tech companies could help solve many of healthcare’s problems.

Fifty-two percent of respondents said they were (very or somewhat) confident that tech companies could improve patient satisfaction, 54 percent were confident that tech companies could reduce healthcare costs, 53 percent were confident that tech firms could simplify healthcare and make it more transparent, and 58 percent were confident that a tech company could aggregate personal healthcare information and make it more accessible.

In addition, PwC found that:

  • 63% of respondents would be (very or somewhat) comfortable buying over-the-counter medicines or other medical products from a technology company
  • 61% would be comfortable buying a product that would pull all of a person’s healthcare information into one place from a tech company
  • 59% would be comfortable buying prescription drugs from a tech company
  • 58% would be comfortable buying in-person visit with a doctor at a clinic from a tech firm
  • 51% would be comfortable buying diagnostic tests from a tech firm
  • 50% would be comfortable buying health insurance from a tech company
  • 47% would be comfortable buying a virtual visit with a doctor from a tech firm

A full 84 percent of Fortune 50 companies have healthcare-related offerings, compared with only 76 percent of Fortune 50 companies with healthcare-related offerings five years ago, according to an analysis by PwC Health Research Institute. This data reflects a trend that companies outside of healthcare are trying to disrupt the US health industry.

“Companies should think about which existing offerings can be scaled to healthcare and how, the regulatory hurdles they may need to clear, what part of healthcare to get into, and the capabilities they will need to compete,” wrote PwC Health Research Institute Senior Manager Alexander Gaffney.

In a new report on healthcare industry disruption, PwC observed that new business models are emerging in the healthcare industry, which has long resisted significant change. This signals the possibility that profound disruption could be coming.

The report related that last year there were several unusual deals that could potentially reshape the US health industry. For example, CVS Health said it plans to buy Aetna for $69 billion. Cigna announced a deal to buy Express Scripts Holding for $67 billion. UnitedHealth’s Optum purchased DaVita Medical Group for $4.9 billion. And Albertsons agreed to merge with Rite Aid.

“This shifting terrain is creating uneven opportunities in the new health economy and will likely drive players new and established to reconsider their business models and strike the sorts of deals announced in the past six months. Some will be driven to seek returns in new markets as their core revenues shrink. Others will find success creating value for other players, including consumers. Still others will thrive by building infrastructure for the emerging virtual health system,” the report said.

The report noted that the health industry is beginning to restructure to achieve more favorable pricing and reimbursements. Companies are working to cut costs and meet customer requiremetns in more convenient and transparent ways. Organizations and companies are emerging that offer consumers one-stop shops for care, treatments, financing and risk management, wellness products and services.

PwC advised healthcare companies to make the following moves to stay ahead of disruption: invest in customer experience, plan for a broader workforce, and focus on price.

“Consumers, employers and the federal government are seeking relief on price and likely will reward companies able to significantly cut them without downgrading quality,” the report stressed. 

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