Leaders offer their perspective on health systems in the new year, including areas of promise and challenges to overcome.
Hospitals and health systems have been dealing with significant changes over the past year, and the pace of change is poised to accelerate in 2024.
A number of healthcare leaders shared their thoughts on what the coming year holds for hospitals and health systems. They offer thoughts on trends to watch, potential avenues for success and challenges to overcome.
Some also mention mistakes to avoid.
Check out some thought-provoking projections for the coming year, in areas such as value-based care, leveraging technology, AI, population health, virtual nursing, the patient experience, and more.
You may agree with some assessments and disagree with a couple. But you’re likely to find plenty to think about and talk about.
Lyle Berkowitz, CEO of KeyCare
“More and more hospitals will look to virtual care partners as a means of helping them fulfill the quintuple aim: 1.) improving patient experience; 2.) improving population health; 3.) addressing care-team well-being; 4.) lowering costs; and 5.) addressing equity issues. For patients, virtual options increase access to care and convenience while saving them time and money. For hospitals, virtual partners increase care efficiency, boost care quality, and enable them to focus their office-based resources on their highest-value use cases.”
Justin Norden, partner at GSR Ventures
“Financial pressures on health systems are going to cause a reduction in point solutions on the health-IT stack. Additionally, despite the excitement around new technologies, health IT departments may see reductions in headcount.”
Adam McMullin, CEO, AvaSure
“Faced with high labor costs and a dwindling supply of experienced healthcare workers, many hospitals across the nation are in various stages of virtual nursing adoption – a number that is sure to rise as health systems’ operating challenges persist. What many health system administrators don’t realize is that they can often finance the implementation of virtual nursing programs via the savings generated from replacing one-to-one sitters with virtual sitters. As virtual nursing programs proliferate and the industry gains deeper knowledge of their potential to improve care and reduce costs, the primary use cases for virtual nursing today – rounding, admissions and discharge, patient education, and documentation support – will be joined by other value-enhancing applications of this emerging technology.”
Stacey Caywood, CEO of Wolters Kluwer Health
“2024 will be a watershed year for GenAI, particularly in healthcare. Look for solutions emerging in four key areas in 2024: lightening administrative burdens across the hospital; helping sharpen clinicians' decision-making; boosting the efficiency of medical researchers; and helping the next generation of healthcare workers ramp up proficiency with smarter learning tools.”
Deepti Sharma, senior vice president of product management at HSBlox
“For value-based care to succeed in 2024, it behooves stakeholders to understand that their best partner is the patient. Patients are faced with a number of hurdles in understanding VBC. So it’s important for those taking on risk as well as those delegating it to ensure that patients are informed as to what they can do in these types of programs to ensure optimal outcomes.”
Jonathan Shoemaker, CEO of ABOUT
“Health systems need to overcome the technological and cultural silos within their organizations to better orchestrate patient care and help ease workforce burnout by allowing providers to operate at the top of their license. This means applying technology to convene disparate data, reduce waste and inefficiencies where applicable and enabling global visibility into their operations. It also means not allowing cultural norms to dictate how patients are cared for.”
Cindy Gaines, chief clinical transformation officer at Lumeon
“In 2024, it's time to eliminate the idea that patients are ‘discharged’ once they leave the hospital, which implies care is finished. Instead, it’s time to treat home as a fundamental care setting that needs to be well integrated into the care continuum through the application of innovative care models enabled by technology.”
Stephanie Lahr, president of Artisight
“Virtual care models that are essential to ensuring access to care and the most effective use of clinical expertise will gain permanence in the year ahead. This will include traditional telemedicine as well as newer care models such as virtual nursing, virtual care management, virtual pharmacy and virtual therapies.”
Holly Miller, chief medical officer of MedAllies
“Hospitals will increasingly invest in technology that improves interoperability, enabling them to better share critical patient information as patients transition across different care teams and facilities. However, a key component of interoperability that often goes overlooked is data usability. By focusing more on the usability of patient data, health systems can ensure clinicians are armed with the best information at the point-of-care to make important decisions about diagnoses and treatment.”
Gary Hamilton, CEO of InteliChart
“As in-office patient visits have returned to pre-pandemic levels, we expect to see healthcare providers adopt a blend of virtual care and in-person consultations in 2024 to meet healthcare consumer expectations. Seamless care experiences – digital, virtual, and tightly connected across physical sites – in a value-based care model will allow providers to unify and defragment the patient experience across the care continuum, thus improving clinical outcomes and impacting overall health, quality, and cost of care.”
Joshua Titus, CEO of Gozio Health
“Coming out of COVID, health systems have struggled with negative margins as they cope with increased costs and lower utilization. Leaders can only cut costs so much - now, it’s time to focus on growth. Increasing patient engagement, utilization, and creating loyalty will take more than offering patient engagement tools and technologies. It requires creating the kind of personalized experience patients have in other areas of their lives. Think about Amazon or Netflix and the way they make recommendations and ‘get to know’ their users. 2024 is the year we will crack the code on creating far more personalized consumer experiences in healthcare that reflect these common experiences that happen outside of healthcare.”
Michael Palantoni, vice president, platform and data services at athenahealth
“Championing the community will be the playbook for value-based care moving into 2024. In the new year, independent practices will need to get creative in the transition to VBC, but it’s the industry’s responsibility to support in their effort to do so. In 2024, we’re going to see smaller providers being innovative with their approach. Instead of acquisitions and consolidations, new types of collaborative networks will sprout up; hybrid MSO-ACOs. In the same vein, ecosystem-oriented design and national platform-to-platform data exchange shrink wrapped for independent practices will be essential, especially when it comes to network wide data access for population health initiatives, identifying high-risk patients, supporting interventions, and closing gaps in care. The question is no longer, ‘How long until VBC is here?’ It’s here now, but the industry needs to think critically about this question: “How does fee-for-service end?” It relies on the smallest providers transitioning.”
Bob Darrin, CEO, Blue Health Intelligence
"Population health management remains a core focus for health system and hospital leaders in 2024. Advanced analytics, predictive modeling, and stratified care are essential for improving patient outcomes, reducing costs, and enhancing the overall health of communities. Health systems that have invested in aggregating and orchestrating their data, should now focus on deriving meaningful insights at both the patient and population level.”
Amy Amick, CEO, Aspirion
“Health systems will continue to struggle with the acute shortage of talent within the revenue cycle. This labor shortage, compounded by the sophistication required to successfully navigate the revenue cycle to generate optimal results, creates material pressure for healthcare leaders in 2024, especially realizing the continued increase in complexity of working with payors to ensure accurate payment. Leaders must creatively tackle these challenges. Access to exceptional talent and application of optimized RCM processes are essential, but leveraging innovative technology is non-negotiable. Technology is now fundamental to effectively navigating the pursuit of receivables; when done right, technology maximizes yield, accelerates collections and support staff by reducing administrative burden, addressing burnout and promoting well-being.”
Mitesh Rao, founder and CEO, OMNY Health:
“Healthcare organization leaders need to prioritize building a robust real-world data infrastructure in 2024. It's imperative for them to ensure equitable access to data, promote diversity and inclusion in clinical research, and drive healthcare innovation that truly serves all patients. This means investing in data systems that break down barriers and empower patients to participate in medical research, ultimately leading to more effective and inclusive treatments."
Pamela Stahl, president, Avalon Healthcare Solutions
“Providers in 2024 will struggle to come to grips with the booming demand for genetic tests. They’ll search for better ways to determine the utility and validity of these tests while controlling rising costs. Healthcare systems will partner with health plans to better manage genetic testing through evidence-based policies, precise coding, and other measures.”
David Bates, CEO and co-founder of Linus Health
“Brain-related disabilities affect over 1 billion people globally, causing not only individual suffering but also imposing financial, emotional, and logistical burdens on their loved ones that is often deleterious to their own health. Despite the immense scale of this suffering, many primary care providers lack the necessary time and training to address these critical aspects of brain health. In 2024, we expect to see providers prioritize brain health tools and resources.”
BJ Boyle, chief product officer at PointClickCare
“Embracing technology to streamline care transitions will be a win/win for providers and patients. Taking friction out of the healthcare environment in 2024 will allow us to streamline care and reduce administrative burden for all clinical staff, not just doctors. As the industry embraces value-based care, it’s important for us to consider all of the ways that technology can help organizations be successful in these value-based care arrangements. In 2024 we will see more organizations embracing customized technology (AI, language models) to curate personalized insights and drive risk models. This will in turn result in more accurate care and enhanced efficiencies on the provider side. Technology will be the key in enabling providers to lead or participate in value-based care – optimizing all providers' roles in an evolving healthcare ecosystem.”