The COVID-19 pandemic is not merely changing one aspect of the health system, such as a new discovery or approach to public health; the crisis is “editing the DNA” of health systems around the world by accelerating what we call the New Health Economy (NHE).
For five years, PwC’s Health Research Institute has been tracking the progress of this transformation, which has largely been incremental. The novel coronavirus is rewriting the rules of the system so quickly that every health organization will have to adapt so it can emerge stronger in the post-pandemic NHE.
The elements of the NHE have been building toward a plug-and-play health ecosystem, but forces emanating from the pandemic have accelerated the transformation.
Virtual health is an opportunity to shift from the traditional episodic model of care to one that is continuous, and engages consumers when they are not directly interacting with the health system. The telehealth explosion continues. Home diagnostics and wearables spread. Life sciences R&D and clinical trials go remote. The virtual workforce expands.
The health system is expected to build data and analytic capabilities to digitally connect consumers and health providers with resources. Interoperability blockers dissolve. Consumers’ health needs are revealed. Communication moves from transactional to continuous. Drug and medical equipment supply and the workforce are matched to needs.
The industry is expected to rethink supply chain resilience and strengthen through collaboration. The regulatory process is disrupted. Supply chains focus on basic inputs. Access to real-world data is preferred. Governments and consumer advocates require supply chain transparency. A resilient workforce manages the supply chain.
Social determinants of health are expected to move to the front door of healthcare. Mental health is prioritized. Health systems ally with community groups consumers trust. The life sciences view expands beyond supporting patient services to wellness. Health systems connect to the social system.
Risk shifts are expected to move at the pace of viruses and technological innovation. The workforce restructures around licensing. The balance between safety and speed is reimagined. Faster moves with limited data or nontraditional sources of data are used to help prove efficacy and safety. Health systems are more open to risk-based reimbursement.
As resources tighten, definitions of transparency and value become more discerning. Employers become activists. Consolidation increases. Health organizations accelerate toward lower-cost ways of doing business. The industry becomes more innovative with pricing.