What if the health care system was exactly the way the consumer prefers it, with individualized attention and convenient access? That’s what Marcus Osborne, vice president of health and wellness transformation at Walmart, asked the audience attending the National Leadership Conference hosted by the Visiting Nurse Associations of America (VNAA) and the Alliance for Home Health Quality and Innovation last week.
“Why are we not innovating the service delivery like every other industry?” he asked.
Osborne offered three visions of how to make the health care system look more like one designed by the person receiving care, by comparing health care to innovations in other industries.
1. Elevate existing professionals
Allowing nurse practitioners to do more would better enable care to take place where consumers most often want it—at home. Osborne also spots a need for what he calls “professional nice people” or PNPs—someone who can help coordinate care for the patient with their preferences in mind.
Not only would this innovate current delivery professionals, it would also open up operational efficiency across the health care system, Osborne said.
2. Harness diagnostics
Comprising roughly 3% of health care spending, disease diagnostics and laboratory work are a relatively cheap way to boost preventative care, which is why Walmart has taken some initiatives to improve access to critical screenings. Walmart is not a full-time health care provider, yet its minimal offerings to free screenings through its occasional “wellness days” provide more hundreds of thousands of screenings over the course of a few days.
“Why is [diagnostics] so hard, and [screening] not ubiquitous?” Osborne asked during the speech.
Providing better access to preventive screenings in places consumers frequently visit or even in their own homes could help better diagnose chronic disease that can be managed more easily and sooner, bringing down overall health care costs and enabling chronic care at home.
3. Use data as a driver
Just like other industries, data and technology can improve the health care system. In home care, digital health can monitor patients’ conditions and drive health analytics to keep care professionals efficient and patients health at home. This vision of digital health encompasses all aspects of a consumer’s digital experience, from being able to test their blood pressure at home to tracking social media and google search for wellness.
“In a consumer-designed environment, digital health would explode,” Osborne said.
Digital touch points that include behavioral health data and traditional care assessments can help build solutions and interventions to keep patients out of higher-cost settings. In this future digital world, Osborne envisions digital health even replacing provider visits in some instances, with technology and digital diagnostics addressing some or all health care needs, he said.
These ideas all center around Walmart’s core mission. Ask yourself, who is No. 1?
“If you can’t say the consumer [is No. 1], go back to the drawing board,” Obsorne said.
Written by Amy Baxter