Healthcare Hot Takes is Luma Health’s monthly rundown of healthcare innovations happening right now. Check out what the industry is thinking, reading, doing. This month’s main topic is healthcare mega-mergers.
Story #1: Mega-Mergers are Transforming Healthcare by Forcing Primary Care Out
From 2012 to 2016, office visits to primary care physicians fell by 18 percent. One cause for this: the emergence of retail and health insurance mega-mergers. More than ever before, patients are choosing to get basic health care from one of the approximately 12,000 retail clinics and urgent cares throughout the nation. The convenience of being able to get care at a local CVS or Walmart is of huge benefit to those patients that live in rural or suburban settings. In addition, patients also receive cheaper care at these locations because they are more likely to have simple health issues be seen by a physician assistant or a nurse practitioner, rather than a physician.
As Walmart and CVS look to finalize mergers with insurers Humana and Aetna respectively, the prevalence of these retail clinics and urgent care centers will continue to grow. The scope of the medical care being provided will also continue to grow. Whereas before a patient may have only been able to get a flu shot at their local Walmart in the future, they may even be able to manage their chronic conditions there.
Luma’s Hot Take: We are excited that these mega-mergers are helping to utilize health care resources in the best possible way, making it easy and cheaper for patients all over the nation to access and engage in basic health care services.
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Story #2: Comcast is Partnering with Independence Health to Launch a New Consumer-Oriented Health Tech Platform
Independence Health Group, one of the nation’s largest Blue Cross health insurers, is teaming up with Comcast (yes, that Comcast) to introduce a new consumer facing digital health platform. Both companies are headquartered in Philadelphia and have been working together on community health initiatives. The open digital platform will be powered by Comcast and distributed via TV and the Comcast app. Making the platform “open” allows for third party applications to plug in and add on new features. The idea is to pilot the initiative locally and then launch nationally in 2019.
The digital platform will help to digitize all pre, during, and post-op care itinerary, including medication instructions for patients going through certain health procedures and conditions.
This is Comcast’s first foray into the healthcare world. With Amazon, Apple, and Google planning on entering the market, Comcast is hoping to jump on the bandwagon as health systems and payers are increasingly looking at technology solutions to improve on patient satisfaction.
Story #3: Google Plans to Disrupt Healthcare by Using AI to Improve on Disease Detection, Data Infrastructure, and Insurance
Google and its parent company, Alphabet, are wagering that the future of healthcare lies in structured data built on artificial intelligence. This is looking more and more likely as health data is increasingly becoming digitized. Having already invested considerable resources in AI, Google is uniquely positioned to impact the healthcare space by analyzing large quantities of health data and making sense of it.
Specifically, Google hopes to improve on disease detection through improved monitoring, detection, and management. This means better digitization and consumption of health data from electronic health records, wearables, imaging, and more. AI is then used to detect anomalies in the data, which could indicate disease. Finally, resources are put into place to help with disease and lifestyle management.
In addition, Google wants to make it easier for care providers to access, organize, and interpret data through more robust and interoperable infrastructure. This means creating more efficient data pipelines, building HIPAA compliance into the Google Cloud, and developing datasets for third party healthcare use. Google has even explored the idea of an insurance company that will utilize AI to detect and manage their constituents’ diseases.
Luma’s Hot Take: Google’s vast resources and undeniable knowledge of the AI space make it a surefire bet to disrupt how healthcare data is stored and analyzed in the future. Improved disease detection and data infrastructure can only lead to better health outcomes!