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Consumer healthcare demands aren’t being met

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Consumer healthcare demands aren’t being met

In our last post, we looked at some of the key market problems contributing to an overburdened healthcare system. In this post, we’ll focus on how this overburdened system fails to meet the demands of today’s healthcare consumers.

Over time, the number of healthcare delivery networks has multiplied, in order in improve access, and better control medical costs. This three network system includes hospitals, extending to outpatient provider clinics, and then the proliferation of urgent care centers. Today, there are 4,800 hospitals in the United States, 250,000 primary care physicians, and 7,100 urgent care centers.  While these staggering numbers seem like they could accommodate the on-demand expectations of today’s consumer, we continue to be at the mercy of a healthcare system that is buckling under the weight of growing prevalence and rising healthcare costs from chronic diseases driven by lifestyle and environmental factors. Furthermore, healthcare in the U.S. today is designed and delivery in a reactionary fashion, with very little infrastructure to support and emphasis on preventative care.

Why is this the case? The three existing healthcare delivery networks, while incredibly important in the delivery of care, are set up to manage care in an episodic, reactionary manner.  Because of the transactional nature of healthcare, economic value for providers is created at the time of a discrete billing event.  While payment models for the delivery of care continue to evolve toward a pay for performance foundation, the provision of scalable healthcare education, screening, and diagnostic services for consumers en masse has lagged. In absence of consumer buy-in, and mechanisms for consumers to play leading, proactive roles in managing their health and wellness, value-based care models will continue to struggle with getting off the ground.

Next up, we’ll consider strategies to address the chronic condition epidemic given the challenges we are facing today.