New care sources offer opportunity

January 1, 2009

Some plans are responding to disruptive innovations with innovative delivery strategies

The emergence of disruptive healthcare innovations-medical tourism, retail clinics, technology-enabled care at home, and cyber visits-presents a new paradigm that suggests partnering with new players outside traditional healthcare sectors will lead to new models of delivery and new ways to operate more efficiently.

PLACES FOR CARE

The Deloitte 2008 Survey of Health Care Consumers, a nationally representative survey of more than 3,000 Americans, found that two in five respondents said they would be interested in pursuing treatment abroad if quality were comparable and the savings were 50% or more. By contrast, inbound medical tourism and medical tourism across state lines will continue to be an opportunity for specialty hubs offering treatments unavailable elsewhere in the world or in other states.

Retail clinics-another non-traditional competitor-have increased by 220%, from just 250 clinics in 2006 to more than 800 in 2007, and close to 1,000 in 2008.

These trends are not fads. While traditional roles in the healthcare delivery system are being threatened by these innovations-creating initial worries for physicians, hospitals and allied health professionals-they may also provide new and rewarding opportunities, particularly for health plans.

NEW SERVICES

Long-term strategies to manage this non-traditional competition may include creating new services or service areas through mergers and acquisitions and partnerships.

Examples of what some health plans are already doing, or are thinking about doing, to capture value from these innovations include:

John T. Bigalke is vice chairman and U.S. industry leader, Deloitte's Health Sciences & Government industry group.

Paul H. Keckley, PhD, is executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.