Editorial: The coming transformation

No matter what the outcome of the election or its impact on the Affordable Care Act, there’s one thing neither party disputes.

The national imperative to promote systematic change of the healthcare delivery system, the focus of half that legislation, will remain intact.

That means the shift from volume to value will not only endure, it will accelerate. The great transformation in how the U.S. pays for and delivers healthcare has become a permanent feature of the industry’s landscape.

This won’t change because the underlying realities won’t change. The U.S. is aging. Older people consume more healthcare services. The system has to figure out how to deliver those services in a more efficient manner or the retiring baby boomers will swamp younger generations in unmanageable Medicare bills.

Moreover, the advance of medical technology is speeding up. Precision medicine, the cancer moonshot, greater use of less invasive surgeries, more success with heroic interventions—medical innovation offers much hope.

But the cost of the innovations, especially those coming from the pharmaceutical industry, is more than the general population or payers can afford.

The result is a healthcare system that is once again growing faster than the rest of the economy. It is projected to exceed 18% of gross domestic product for the first time this year.

Fortunately, most healthcare systems are responding to the challenge. The drive to deliver higher- quality, safer and more-affordable care has become part of their institutional DNA.

Many are experimenting with coordinating care and setting up medical homes. Many are using data to identify high-risk patients and offering targeted interventions. Some are offering new services such as telehealth and walk-in clinics. Some are taking on full risk for the overall cost of care.

Many are looking to lift productivity, quality and safety at their facilities by adopting Lean and Six Sigma improvement programs. Others are experimenting with price and quality transparency, or are looking for new ways to streamline their supply chains.

Modern Healthcare recently reviewed its mission statement. A key part of our mission is to help providers, payers and suppliers—our readers—with the news, information and data to succeed on higher-quality, lower-cost and more patient-centric care. That’s why this week we are launching the Transformation Hub on our website.

In this special news and information section, created in partnership with Avia, whose 20 major health system members are dedicated to transforming care through the best use of emerging technologies, we will tell stories of health system transformation that are taking place all over the country.

We will focus on the innovation that is being spawned inside delivery organizations. We’ll feature the success stories among the firms that have sprung up across the country to provide new information technology and other products and services to aid the system through its transformation.

We’ve broken up the coverage into four areas: ConsumerismCare ContinuumOperations 2.0, and Capability to Act. Each section will cover special topics such as how to gauge and improve patient satisfaction in real time, or how to deploy new software tools for coordinating care after patients are discharged from the hospital.

There are approximately 600 hospital systems with over 5,000 hospitals, hundreds of insurers and vendors and tens of thousands of physician practices in the U.S. Most are already engaged in the work of transforming healthcare. All need to be.

So become part of our learning network. Visit the Transformation Hub. And if you have a great improvement story, send a note to Managing Editor Gregg Blesch at gblesch@modernhealthcare.com. Tell us about your success story on the road to a transformed healthcare system.