Many people continue to mourn the death of innovation in the United States. But I disagree. While the U.S. currently finds itself at a challenging intersection of innovation and payment and regulatory reform, these circumstances also offer a unique opportunity.
Now more than ever, we must work creatively and collaboratively to create a new environment for health and medical innovation. There are five critical trends that we must not only adapt to but also embrace in order to create a value-based healthcare system.
1. Progression of Science
This is an amazing time for science and medicine. The National Academy of Sciences predicts that medical knowledge will double between now and 2022. Progress is happening faster than ever with breakthrough developments such as progenitor heart cells and robotic surgery, as well as future inventions like MRI machines the size of cell phones and flash drives containing your personal genetic code.
2. Information Technology and Big Data
Technology breakthroughs such as cloud computing and big data, smart manufacturing and engineering, and the wireless revolution are all poised to transform medicine and the U.S. economy. Additionally, big data analytics and research will encourage the use of patient databases based on information from the government and insurers to gain new insights and information. Big data will change the ways in which we research, develop, and market drugs and devices and how we will measure their performance.
3. Changing Politics and Public Scrutiny of Healthcare Quality and Costs
Healthcare costs, specifically Medicare and Medicaid, will continue to be the primary driver of federal spending. These costs are increasingly responsible for destabilizing the U.S. economy.
4. Regulatory Expansion
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will continue to play an important role in medical innovation. The FDA is aiming to jumpstart innovation by implementing faster drug and device approval processes and expanding beyond randomized clinical trials to include innovative trial designs and the use of big data population analyses.
5. Health Reform and Payment Components
In health reform, the clinical effectiveness of treatments and procedures will have to be carefully weighed against their cost-effectiveness. For instance, a percentage of costs accrued in the post-acute space of a procedure like PCI could be spared if cardiologists took responsibility for patients who re-enter the hospital in the 90 days following the procedure. Doing so not only benefits patient outcomes and regulatory agencies, but also improves the reimbursement process.
All five trends will force us to think differently about how we bring products to market, treat patients, and manage people over time. All are very different and challenging, but we must be willing to change with the times and become a part of the process in order to succeed in improving patient care.