How do you increase equitable access to care in a sustainable way and then invest and build scale to make a real impact on health, globally? This complex and challenging question was put to more than 200 CxOs from 150 providers who gathered in Munich on October 23-24 for the Siemens Healthineers Executive Summit. Delegates hailed from 39 countries spanning the globe from China to Brazil and across Europe and North America, representing the health systems of 5.1 billion people.
Reimagine Health: Scaling for an equitable future. Exactly how do we increase health equity?
- Providing jobs in healthcare can offer stability in an uncertain world by investing in communities and building career paths for young people. Engaging directly with communities is essential to determine if, and how, their needs are being met and to be able to adapt the strategy to achieve that.
- Governments and payors are witnessing a tipping point where the evidence to support population health models is growing. But governments and regulators still hold the cards when it comes to reimbursement and funding of new technology. Governments have a vested interest in equity, job creation and lowering healthcare costs. They are vital partners to scale initiatives.
Rethink Efficiency: Seeking sustainable operations. Once we increase health equity, how do we future-proof it?
- Environmental sustainability should be viewed as a fait accompli and investments to increase energy efficiency and reduce waste as capital expenditure. Healthcare also has the ability to move the dial and make significant cost savings quickly with careful investments in equipment, infrastructure and new processes. Starting in small pockets and empowering frontline workers to lead on sustainability will have the biggest impact over time.
- Training is insufficient to equip the 17 million healthcare workers required to meet current demand. We must utilize technology to drive efficiency and productivity and to do more with fewer resources. Technology will not replace jobs, but those who resist it will see their colleagues leap ahead. Getting people to change working practices or use new systems requires aligning incentives across the group.
Everyone is counting on efficiency as the panacea for workforce shortages, sky-rocketing costs and to reduce environmental waste. Future health systems will depend on efficiencies being built in for survival.
Redefine Organizational Design: Leading scalable transformation.
How do you take a small pilot project and build it to a level capable of meeting all these aims?
- Culture is the secret sauce that will underpin success. Leaders need to be accountable for initiatives, to develop, track and measure KPIs and to communicate success with the workforce. If it is only one person’s responsibility to increase diversity or drive sustainability change, then it won’t happen. It needs to be embedded in everyone.
- A combination of standardization and digital transformation will enable good ideas to scale fast. This is particularly important for data and shared algorithms where interoperability is a big barrier. Where results are proven in small studies and pilots, providers must record lessons and continue to experiment. Huge wins can be made in primary care, diagnostics, preventative screening, training, and patient education.
- The patient has transformed into a consumer and the delivery and business models must change to meet modern consumer demands. The dominant business model that got us here is no longer fit for purpose. This means developing connected, asynchronous care and using technology to identify the right pathway, lower costs and build economies of scale. Investment should be focussed on primary care to make the biggest impact on outcomes and reduce the burden on emergency rooms and hospitals.
The business model point is important. Regulators are a huge barrier. Without reimbursement at the scale that only governments and public health systems can bring, innovation will remain the privilege of the private sector.
Exploring the horizon for personalized care
The discussion shot forward to explore and marvel at what will be possible with technology in the not-so-distant future. Siemens Healthineers’ SVP of AI and Digital Innovation, Dorin Comaniciu predicted that computing power will increase one thousandfold by 2030. He asked what the impact will be on accelerating treatment, sharing that he was optimistic about the ability to reduce radiotherapy planning from days to seconds. Nassir Navab, Director of the Computer Aided Medical Procedures (CAMP) at Technical University of Munich, stated that this will come with trust gained by intelligence amplification, the process of using machines to aid human intelligence.
Dorin Comaniciu highlighted the importance of AI machines being able to develop a digital twin that they can interact with, just as a doctor is able to do in their mind. Nassir Navab added that we are still way off, but there is a point where we will need to ask whose responsibility it is to make these decisions, ours, or the machine’s?
So how do you chart a path to a sustainable, equitable and scalable future?
Healthcare Futurist, Nick Webb suggested “leaning into the blur” and embracing uncertainty and complexity.” A “ludic leadership model”, as he put it, requires self-awareness, as well as an understanding and embracing of the marketplace and new business models, together with clarity and focus on culture. Today we win or lose on the basis of a better system design, with disruption you probably don’t lose to the standard competitors, it’s the mutation coming at you that matters.
Partnership is essential as the challenges of equity; workforce shortages and sustainability are too numerous to handle alone. Silos need to be broken down with a collaborative, not a competitive mindset, in order to make any impact. Providers need to identify their strengths and seek partner solutions for weaknesses. An agnostic view on ownership and payor structure is crucial to identify the best solution and the shortest pathway to reach patients where they are.
Finding balance in a changing environment: As we climb the mountain to reach equity, we can be intimidated by the size of the task, but we have to keep going, we can’t stand still. Working with others, taking it step by step, adapting to the changing landscape and balancing society’s demands and your organisational goals is the only way to the top.
Investing in technology is not cheap nor is success guaranteed. But it is necessary to identify what works and what doesn’t. If more providers, governments, and payors in healthcare are willing to invest, then great ideas that might otherwise get lost can be captured.
About the Siemens Healthineers Executive Summit
The Siemens Healthineers Executive Summit is an exclusive, invitation-only event and community that brings together the world’s leading healthcare minds to share their strategies, experiences, and forward-thinking ideas. By connecting influential CEOs from healthcare systems around the world, we create a network of knowledge sharing; and by gathering in one place, we build the momentum to influence decisions and truly change the future of healthcare.