Future of U.S. managed healthcare centers on simplicity and ease of use

September 1, 2007

Healthcare reform has surfaced as a national topic. Intel co-founder Andy Grove outlined some noteworthy ideas on healthcare reform during a national speaking tour, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently proposed a plan to cover the citizens of his state. Getting a head start on the 2008 Presidential race, Mitt Rommey is weighing in with proposals based on his experience as former Governor of Massachusetts. While all these ideas are coming from different sources, they all share a few basic themes: healthcare should be easy to find, to buy, and to understand.

Healthcare reform has surfaced as a national topic. Intel co-founder Andy Grove outlined some noteworthy ideas on healthcare reform during a national speaking tour, and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger recently proposed a plan to cover the citizens of his state. Getting a head start on the 2008 Presidential race, Mitt Rommey is weighing in with proposals based on his experience as former Governor of Massachusetts. While all these ideas are coming from different sources, they all share a few basic themes: healthcare should be easy to find, to buy, and to understand.

Rising premiums demand new models

The most powerful force driving the future of the U.S. healthcare system is financial. Forecasts predict that healthcare premiums will rise by an average of 11% over the next several years. So how will companies who cover some or all of their employees' monthly healthcare premiums remain competitive? Rising premiums will force employers to adopt one of several solutions. Change will be essential. Change on the part of employers who will need to innovate, and change on the part of employees who have come to expect healthcare coverage.

Technology as a healthcare tool

In addition to monetary contributions, employers can set themselves apart by embracing and implementing technology tools. Technology can deliver this content on demand and directly to consumers via the Internet. These healthcare resources will combine text, pictures, and sound to create an engaging and relevant experience.

Technology will finally let consumers see inside healthcare and find insights on cost, quality, and product information all embedded in hi-fidelity, media-laced content. It will be easy to find and will not require hours of searching. Once consumers have the knowledge, they can then decide what to buy.

New trend - healthcare consumerism

Slowly we see healthcare moving toward a free market, and it is getting a powerful push by the Internet. Over the next three to five years, this progression will put consumers in the decision-making seat. Insurance carriers will join the new consumerism movement as they begin to cater to a new educated audience.

Remaining competitive through transformation

Managed care companies must must take three critical steps to remain competitive in the emerging consumer market:

1) Make it easy to do business: From buying policies to paying medical bills and premiums – managed care companies need to make changes that allow processes to occur faster with less hassle. This will occur electronically through tools, such as Internet-based enrollment and billing.

2) Think like a consumer: The center of influence is moving away from big organizations toward individuals. Organizations that think like a consumer will be the survivors.

3) Work well with others: The U.S. healthcare system is traditionally characterized by islands of information. Each company has its own capability and specialty functioning with the mentality that "only I can share this piece of information with my customer." The leaders of tomorrow will embrace the capacity to share information broadly.