Hospital systems must develop next-generation care ecosystems

Q: How can I create a healthy business ecosystem?

A: The coronavirus pandemic has forced most industries to rethink their business models. For Minnesota’s healthcare systems, the need to implement new models of care has accelerated change, and those changes are now transforming them into business ecosystems.

Ecosystems are a collection of disparate initiatives combined to deliver consistent value to the customer.

Disney is a prime example that uses its multi-channel brand with theme parks, movies, streaming, cruises, toys, apparel, and games to consistently deliver a high-quality product. The transformation of health systems into ecosystems can be a model for any company because they contain three key strategies.

Create ongoing consumer engagement. Health systems have spent a lot of money and leadership in implementing digital health record systems for operational efficiency. They now mimic leading online retailers and add sophisticated customer interfaces that will more easily connect consumers to their own data, provider communications, scheduling systems, pharmacies, and many other clinical services.

Broaden the scope of the service delivery model. The site of health care is changing and the home is increasingly being used to provide clinical services. Telehealth services have flourished during the pandemic, and it is expected that health systems that have adopted them will provide approximately 25-40% of ambulatory care remotely in the future. New in-home clinical monitoring devices are being widely deployed and the use of technology to enable “hospital in home” is growing and is now used by Minnesota systems and more than 150 hospitals nationwide.

Implementation of a complete IT platform. For example, Mayo Clinic has entered into a long-term relationship with Google to house its data in Google’s health cloud. They also use Google’s AI and advanced analytics tools to integrate information from all data sources to provide a complete picture and suggested actions for patients and their doctors.

As challenges remain in the transition to healthcare ecosystems, the symbol of healthcare is shifting from stethoscope to smartphone. Health ecosystems are the vehicle for the next generation of health systems, and they will provide Minnesotans with increased convenience, engagement, and long-term health.

Dan McLaughlin is a senior executive at the University of St. Thomas Opus College of Business.