Q&A on the future of integrated health networks

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November 01, 2019

HRI spoke with PwC Strategy& principals Igor Belokrinitsky and Patrick Maher and director Siddharth Doshi about the future of integrated health networks (IHNs), a topic they explore in a new report, IHN 3.0 — The Integrated Health Network of the Future.

PwC Health Research Institute (HRI): 

In your new report, you talk about the shifting role that IHN 3.0 will require of health networks, which will need to be a curator of health and well-being. Can you describe what that role looks like?

Siddharth Doshi, Director, Strategy&

When we say curator, we mean a health system or organization that not only forms very deep relationships with consumers, their families and caregivers, but provides a very personalized service.

Igor Belokrinitsky, Principal, Strategy& 

The new promise of the IHN to the consumer is this: “I will be your trusted, possibly lifetime partner in helping you achieve your health goals by bringing and coordinating the necessary services around you.” This is a value proposition that consumers and employers want and no one today can offer – yet.

Patrick Maher, Principal, Strategy&

Today’s healthcare ecosystem is painful enough for consumers. From an experience point of view, it’s very difficult to navigate and coordinate your own care – it’s fragmented, it’s hard to interact with. As these ecosystems become bigger and more complex, the need for curation on behalf of the consumer or the patient becomes ever more important.

For me as a consumer in an IHN future, I want to ensure two things: (1) I have confidence they can curate an experience relevant to me, and (2) they can help me achieve my health outcomes or guarantee that I can achieve those health outcomes. When they can do that, I’ll give them a lifetime of loyalty.

Making yourself more quality-obsessed and efficient and interoperable and upskilling your workforce are no-regret moves.

HRI: You paint a vivid picture in the report about what the IHN 3.0 patient experience should be like. Can you talk about why health networks need to move in this direction, and how it benefits both the patient and the health organization in the long run?

Igor Belokrinitsky: As the health network evolves, it will do so in line with our understanding of consumers. The rate-limiting factor is our ability to win consumer attention, trust and loyalty, and to change their behavior.

Without an engaged consumer, it doesn’t matter how good your drugs are, how good your procedures or diagnostics are, how nice your building is or how digital you are, you’re not going to improve health outcomes.

Siddharth Doshi: There’s impact to the health system in terms of the direct value equation. In a competitive environment, it increases retention, opens up new revenues and services, improves reputation and reduces costs to serve.

Ultimately it also improves health outcomes. This stems from improving satisfaction, health outcomes, your reputation, and even achieving some measure of delight with the health system. I think you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody that’s calling a health experience delightful today.

HRI: For those health networks that are in stage 1.0 or 2.0, what are some first steps they can take?

Patrick Maher: One of the critical first steps is deep immersion in knowing your consumers in a more complete manner. Deep qualitative research is becoming more important.

In order to get to an enhanced consumer capability, you have to go through a steep learning curve and truly understand your consumers, literally living a day, week or entire journey in their shoes, interviewing friends and family members, conducting focus groups. Human-centered design requires that we understand consumers much better and the issues they are dealing with, not just the data.

Igor Belokrinitsky: Step zero is asking yourself why is this exciting, why is this worth pursuing, before you can justify taking steps 1 through 12.

There’s probably an evolutionary and a revolutionary way of getting to IHN 3.0. The evolutionary way is you identify some incremental changes you can start making without betting the farm.

Making yourself more quality-obsessed and efficient and interoperable and upskilling your workforce are no-regret moves.

The revolutionary way is to say in five years, we’ll have double the numbers of patients and we’ll serve them cradle to grave, and we’re going to look and feel completely different. This kind of a commitment calls for a different operating model, a different network model, a different business model. A good starting point is a hard look in the mirror to understand strengths, limitations and priorities.

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Crystal Yednak

Senior Manager, Health Research Institute, PwC US

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