The health care sector is becoming more consumer-centric, participatory, outcomes-based and cost-efficient, but lags in introducing automation and enablement technologies. This is according to New Horizons 2019: An EY NextWave Health Report, that explores the shift from reimagining the health ecosystem of tomorrow to executing on that vision.

The report highlights that investors and policymakers believe the future of health lies with technology. Responding to this, private equity investors are increasingly funding health technologies, physician practice management, and outpatient specialty areas, including urgent care and home health care. Between 2014-18, health care expanded its share of total private equity deals in the US from 8.3% to 12.2%. In fact, one in seven private equity firms made at least one health care investment in 2018, with a focus on clinical efficiency and regulatory compliance.

Additionally, the report found that only one in four consumers view their health system as innovative compared with other digitally transformed industries such as retail or banking. In general, health care lags other industries in introducing digital technologies for both consumers and physicians, with only 25% of Netherlands consumers and 21% of physicians in England rating their health care systems as performing well.

David Roberts, EY Global Health Sector Leader, says:

“A change in attitude, maybe that is culture, across the health care ecosystem is vital. Health organizations need to become more agile and look to build, buy or partner on solutions that bring the organization up to speed. Health care organizations and health systems contemplating change will need to weigh three conditions that are necessary to achieve this — creating an overarching strategy of digital transformation, optimizing performance through agile business transformation and pursuing deep-seated cultural change.”

In the long-term, the value for health companies will not necessarily be in owning data, but in the relationships and access to ever-larger data pools that allow algorithms and insights to be created. These, in turn, will shape health outcomes in ways that matter to consumers, payors and other health stakeholders. To build the connected health ecosystem of tomorrow, an open IT infrastructure is necessary, that connects all these stakeholders and supports the frictionless, permission-based flow of information. This infrastructure, together with open-source data standards, that go beyond application programming interfaces and clinical data models, are essential precursors to our view of the emerging, participatory health, a world in which we live.