The vision to deliver healthcare to everyone and everywhere brought more than 200 global healthcare leaders from 37 countries to Munich on October 20-21 at the Executive Summit 2022. Like-minded healthcare executives spent the day exchanging ideas and debating innovative solutions to support and expand healthcare access and patient outcomes while seeking answers to the most significant roadblocks to this objective.
The Summit sparked conversations about improving healthcare equity, accessibility, and affordability and how technology, culture, and leadership styles can help address the biggest obstacle—the workforce shortage.
In his opening remarks, Siemens Healthineers CEO Bernd Montag emphasized the importance of being a pioneer, which might involve facing resistance and unknown “to elevate the healthcare system,” Montag added. According to Montag, healthcare leaders can play a role in fighting the most threatening diseases, enabling efficient operations, and expanding access to care. Collectively, they can assist in answering the burning question of the day— “how to scale medicine”—by allowing to “create systemness in healthcare” and ensure that “50 hospitals together become better than 50 individual hospitals.”
In the day's opening panel, key healthcare leaders from developing countries highlighted ways to expand access to care. Prof. Hatem Elgabaly, Chairman of the RAYLAB Group, made an intriguing observation: “They always sell you this very famous phrase: think out of the box, but what is this box? How big is it? What does it do? What is inside? After more than 40 years, I realized that there is no box. The problems are the same, but the tools are different.” Elgabaly believes that technology is the tool to alter access to care and, consequently, its affordability.
In the Philippines, however, geographical limitations restrict access to care. Around two-thirds of the hospitals are situated on the main island, creating a significant geographical imbalance across over 7,000 islands. The President and CEO of Ayala Healthcare Holdings, Paolo Borromeo, described how the company’s integrated care delivery ecosystem would improve access throughout the healthcare continuum. Om Prakash Manchanda, Managing Director of Dr Lal PathLabs suggests implementing a Hub-and-Spoke business model, similar to Uber, which facilitates communication between patients and the “closest mobile phlebotomist,” for instance, enhancing access to treatment.
According to Lara Rabiu, Investment Director of Oppenheimer Partners, investments are another tool that can be used to promote healthcare equity. Rabiu spotlights the investment opportunities in the African healthcare industry and advocates for a partnership with the world of investors to redistribute capacity and consolidate healthcare systems.
To achieve universal healthcare, it should be provided where the patient is. The second panel of the Executive Summit 2022 addressed ways to boost efficiency while decreasing costs. Using AI and 25 years of data, a leading healthcare institution in Israel reduced hospitalization rates by 43% and cut expenditures. Focusing on delivering predictive, proactive, and preventive care, the healthcare institution aims to approach patients while “they look healthy.”
According to Jeremy Fotheringham, Regional President of SSM Health Saint Louis, preventive care is also a priority for SSM Health. They determined that healthcare accounts for just 20% of factors that impact an individual’s health, whereas individual behaviors, surroundings, and socioeconomic status account for 80%. Fotheringham described their goal to engage with mayors, health departments, and legislative plans to develop upstream systems of care and incentives to address therapy, health, and well-being as a whole.
Robert Möller, CEO of Helios Kliniken, highlighted how Helios is helping in filling the gap left by the absence of general practitioners. Using a concept called “Care for you to be,” or CUBE to establish flexible digital, telemedical and physical units worldwide where people do not have access to medical care. The CUBE offers multi-diagnostic tools that can include X-ray, ultrasound, blood and eye pressure measurement in one physical unit. Patients may have the essential medical exams done under the supervision of professionals as a walk-in solution or after the first video consultation with a doctor.
Mark O'Halla, President and CEO of Prisma Health, detailed the path of Prisma in moving from inpatient hospital care to outpatient, home-based care. O’Halla’s vision is to become more than just a care provider, emphasizing how both Prisma and its client companies gain cost savings since they deal with self-insured businesses that pay for any outlier claims themselves - a system worth 94% of patient satisfaction.
Healthcare for everyone, everywhere is a worthy goal, but unless the workforce shortage is resolved, it will remain just that: a goal. As a result, in the second part of the day, the Executive Summit 2022 focused on extensively evaluating the workforce crisis issue by reviewing the situation in the United Kingdom to illustrate the seriousness of the crisis. An estimated 7 million people in the UK are waiting up to two years of treatment, a trend that has accelerated in recent years.
The discussion revolved around the UK's strategy to minimize the patient waiting list by separating urgent and elective care and improving the diagnostic infrastructure. The most pressing issue is retaining current employees, as 5% leave owing to poor working relationships or a lack of appreciation. This challenge might be solved by using technology that helps to free up time and empowering an organizational culture based on empathy and compassion, as explored in further depth in the last two sessions.
Mark Middleton, Global CEO of the Icon Group, vividly described how technology and partnering might improve efficiency and lead to economies of scale, expanding the responsibilities of medical professionals and decreasing delivery costs. Middleton discussed the Icon Group’s implementation of a remote radiotherapy planning that from Brisbane supports planning for Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and China, hence eliminating the skills gap and encouraging constant innovation regardless of location.
Middleton also mentioned the development of delivering chemotherapeutic compounds over a large and remote region, such as Australia, using drones. As a final point, he detailed how Icon quickly implemented a remote learning model thanks to technological advancements.
If, on the one hand, technology has the potential to transform labor efficiency, “technology is not a replacement for people. It is an extension of people and relationships,” Adrienne Boissy, Chief Medical Officer of Qualtrics stated in a conversation with Albert Wu, Director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Services and Outcomes Research. The last day's interview focused on understanding healthcare workers' needs. Empathy, compassion, and humility, provided with dignity and respect, are the core of healthcare.
Wu and Boissy emphasized the importance of programs created to assist healthcare professionals in coping with mental distress and improve internal communications. Caring for those who care for others is essential to achieve this goal. Wu urged top-level executives to “lead by example” and add “ensure the well-being of healthcare workers” to the three previously established goals of patient satisfaction, population health, and cost-cutting per capita. As Wu underlined, “healthcare is humans taking care of other humans;” thus, it’s important to remember that even top leaders must tend to their own needs.
Boissy encourages everyone, including leaders, to create their own “joy pie” before they can adequately care for and encourage others under their supervision. The panel recommended organizations bake empathy into the process to create environments where compassion and humanity are recognized as assets rather than weaknesses.
“Healthcare is more global than we think,” Montag remarked and drew attention to what was left out of the speech, “we did not hear anyone say it's all getting so much more difficult,” highlighting the general positivity of the day’s conversations.
- Access, affordability, and “systemness in healthcare” may all be improved via cloud-based platforms, partnerships, and innovative business models. An inclusive strategy that encourages caring for everyone is necessary to ensure that no one is neglected.
- The ongoing digital revolution in healthcare harnesses the potential of data, AI, and other cutting-edge technology to improve and prevent health outcomes. Primary care should be the focal point of the digital and virtual care paradigm shift. Equally important to attaining health everywhere is developing models that bring together public and private resources and engage communities.
- Healthcare system empowerment is not just dependent on technology. Retaining employees is critical to providing a sustainable healthcare system. This may be accomplished by implementing short-, medium- and long-term strategies to reduce administrative burdens, strengthen public investments in the workforce, and facilitate workforce digital transformation.
- Tools such as smartphones, remote and automated capabilities enable the more efficient and secure performance of responsibilities, therefore expanding geographical boundaries and providing economies of scale while meeting workers’ needs.
- Investing in a culture of well-being should be a top focus. It is necessary to break the conventional silence around the suffering of health workers. Empathy, transparency, and supportive communication must be integrated into businesses to create an environment where employers feel seen and inspired to do such a demanding and rewarding job as caring for others.
- Healthcare organizations are intrinsically connected and confront the same issues globally. As the COVID-19 response demonstrated, remarkable things can happen when the right partners come together with a single goal and a feeling of urgency.
Further Reading: Insights Series
The Siemens Healthineers Insights Series is our preeminent thought leadership platform—carefully researched and professionally written papers drawing on the knowledge and experience of some of the world’s most respected healthcare leaders and innovators. The Series explores emerging issues and offers ideas, analysis, and practical advice on how to deliver high-value care.