Will Healthcare Innovation Survive?

From news headlines to healthcare conferences to the water cooler conversations at hospitals and health plans alike – there is no shortage of speculation and pontification about the future of the nation’s healthcare system. What’s next for Obamacare? What will be the Trump-Price effect? Will Value Based Payments come to a halt? Is MACRA still alive? When will healthcare reach 20 percent of the GNP, five years or eight years?

The biggest question HIMSS attendees and others in the industry are asking: Will all this uncertainty slow down innovation and inhibit future investment in technology?

While there’s an abundance of unknowns, sweeping health system change – whether financing, care delivery, or even political – isn’t around the corner. The machinery of big government, both legislative and regulatory, where much of this change takes place moves at a deliberate, if not glacial pace. And while political rhetoric and grandstanding will shape the headlines, “reform redux” or an overhaul of Medicare and Medicaid will be years in the making. Unfortunately, the daily deluge of political pomposity around healthcare has the average consumer confused and often times plain scared.

Remember the “Day One” promise: On the first day of the Presidency I will repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and replace it with…something better, or more specifically, something terrific. “Repeal and replace” has moved to “repeal and repair” and some say it’s more likely to be “repeal and rename”. In any case, pundits believe that a new healthcare program will stretch implementation over three to four years as components of the Affordable Care Act are phased-out or modified and new program components are phased-in. Realists across the country however, know that an ounce of bipartisanship would go a long way for all healthcare consumers – improve ACA through smart, targeted, legislated fixes and modifications.

So back to that critical question: Will all this uncertainty slow down innovation and inhibit future investment in technology? NO!

Given the current direction of the healthcare industry – increased coverage for millions of Americans, shift from volume to value-based healthcare, sophisticated technology to support both efficient care delivery and consumer decision-making, new convenience-driven remote and mobile health outlets – there’s a new baseline and more importantly, there’s momentum! Entrepreneurs have always led the way in healthcare innovation, and they won’t let up anytime soon. It’s the innovators and risk-takers that are making breakthroughs in cancer, Alzheimer’s and preventative treatments, and breaking down barriers with artificial intelligence and cognitive computing for diagnostic accuracy and precision medicine.

This entrepreneurial spirit will triumph over the bureaucracy of government change. Innovators call into question legacy assumptions, disruptors challenge institutional bias, and visionaries force debate around longstanding approaches to problems and even their solutions. Success in transformative, threatened markets such as healthcare requires an ability to anticipate and absorb change, generate disruptive ideas, and act with sequenced urgency. This is the way entrepreneurs manage through obstacles, capture opportunity, and change markets.

HIMSS and its 40,000+ attendees, in addition to entire health industry, will live to see another year of invention, discovery, and successes!

June 18, 2016
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