Future academic medical centers: Forging new identities in the New Health Economy

Forging new identities for academic medical centers of the future

The nation’s academic medical centers (AMCs) sit at the very heart of the $3.6 trillion US health industry, caring for millions of people every year during some of the most physically and mentally challenging times of their lives. And yet these important institutions are facing intensifying pressures at a time of profound change in their industry. While their position in the industry is crucial, America’s AMCs likely will need to make some dramatic changes if they are to continue to thrive. They will need to invest in business models that have the best financial returns.

Many consumers are unwilling to pay more for care at an AMC

The tripartite mission is expanding

Many AMCs are expanding their clinical missions to include wellness and the social determinants of health, broadening their research missions to include population health and personalized medicine, and expanding their educational missions by training their own workforces in emerging technologies and digital skills. Some AMCs are even intensifying their focus on the health of the communities they serve.

Four provider system models will dominate the New Health Economy

Product leader

  • Growing market share in profitable procedures
  • Leading their markets by providing the most advanced care at the highest quality while investing heavily in research and innovation
  • Relying on telemedicine to allow US physicians to share expertise nationally and abroad and take care to the patient
  • Bringing differentiated service offerings to the market that address costly and complicated health conditions

Experience Leader

  • Realizing the lifetime value of the patient
  • Recognized first and foremost for the unparalleled patient experience it delivers and its ability to retain patients through excellent access, convenience and service
  • Delivering high quality care across traditional venues, non-traditional physical locations, and virtual space
  • Understanding the consumer markets they are serving will be critical

Health Manager

  • Reaping the benefits from improving the health of communities over time
  • Recognized as experts in managing population health and risk-based contracts with payers and employers
  • Finding ways to serve complex populations and address the social determinants affecting health


  • Making money on risk as well as care
  • Recognized as a low-cost provider
  • Achieving multiregional or national scale by integrating both geographically and along the healthcare value chain
  • Creating value through their vast network and their intentional partnerships
  • Succeeding in a landscape where hospitals are not confined to the four walls of their buildings

Successful AMCs will become hybrids of these models

Over the next decade, AMCs will have to evolve into hybrids of these models to continue to fulfill the tripartite mission and be competitive. For AMCs this evolution is especially important; if they instead choose the status quo their margins are at risk of staying small or eroding, meaning they may not be able to bring value around training and research as they can today.

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Glenn Hunzinger

Glenn Hunzinger

US Pharma and Life Sciences Leader, PwC US

Laura  Robinette

Laura Robinette

Global Engagement Partner, Health Industries Trust Solutions Leader, PwC US

Thom Bales

Thom Bales

Principal, Health Services Sector Leader, PwC US

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