When it comes to innovation, there’s one overarching goal on health system CEOs’ minds: access.
That means providing patients with care where they want it, when they want it and—increasingly—before they know they need it, according to health system CEOs. And that can involve building new options for brick-and-mortar care, such as conveniently located retail clinics and urgent-care centers, or by offering care through digital means.
“Right now, the big issues are access and convenience,” said Chris Van Gorder, CEO of Scripps Health.
It seems like most health system leaders are in agreement, according to Modern Healthcare’s most recent Power Panel survey of top healthcare CEOs. Eighty-five percent of the CEOs responding to the survey ranked clinical practice among the top three healthcare areas most in need of innovation, and 62% cited consumerism.
Interestingly, for many health system CEOs, clinical doesn’t mean disease diagnosis or treatment decisions. Instead, it’s part of a broadened idea of clinical care, connecting patients with the services they need to mitigate future health issues. And while such considerations as cost and patient satisfaction remain important pieces in the shift to healthcare consumerism, a growing emphasis on care access is becoming a bigger priority for CEOs.
The proliferation of retail clinics, urgent-care centers and direct-to-consumer telemedicine options over the past few years has opened the door for patients to seek healthcare outside of the traditional hospital’s walls, and to a lesser degree outside of physician clinics. Health systems want a piece of that market.
Using technology to support convenient access to care certainly isn’t a new concept. But there’s been a marked uptick in interest recently, said Brian Kalis, Accenture’s managing director of digital health.
“That trend has accelerated significantly over the past 12 to 24 months,” Kalis said. He attributed the growth to technology getting better and cheaper, as well as patients’ increasing interest in—and preference for—nontraditional healthcare services. “There’s a couple of factors in motion there,” he said.