Could the future of healthcare involve Franchising?

A radical concept, I agree but, after numerous conversations at HIMSS and discussions with clients, the concept needs to be discussed because it could play an important role in the future.
The Future
As healthcare providers become lean and more focused in their direct services, increased capabilities will begin with more and more of it being outsourced to vendors and service providers. Tele–health will become intra-health, with cloud computing providing more secure internet video, voice and information.

Imagine you have a house with a 2 inch water pipe feeding into it. Now imagine that pipe at 50 inches. That’s the kind of capacity increase healthcare providers will have. President Obama is pushing for similar increases to residential sectors which enable huge advances in tele-medicine and online visits. Knowing these kinds of capabilities will be here soon, it’s important to consider how it will impact the future of patient care. Already we have seen an upstart in providers working with device manufactures for devices to conduct monitoring and diagnostic care in the home. Is it too far off to think healthcare models will change to incorporate these unique patient care practices?

A colleague at HIMSS asked what I thought the biggest change will be for healthcare in the future. Without hesitation I said “marketing.” Many of the top providers in the country have already begun working on the foundations for such models. Organizations are securing patents and other intellectual properties while moving more and more diagnostic and therapies to the patient home. Many healthcare provider organizations have initiatives in place to increase their footprint with virtual medicine. Organizations that position themselves as the best, most-effective provider will be the big winners when patients have more options for care.

Already we are seeing advertisements from world known provider organizations and this is only going to increase as there are currently multiple ways to provide patient care virtually or to affiliate, partner and yes, even franchise, through other local providers. In the future, how you provide care and your ability to market that is going to determine an organizations position in the market. I can see it now;

 

a commercial for Cleveland Clinics’ world famous cardiac care, at these local participating providers…

 

Obviously this is an example and I do not know of any particular efforts at Cleveland Clinic, but is it hard to envision?

Here are some possible approaches to emerging parts of healthcare models you might see:

Virtual Healthcare/Telemedicine –Advancements in technology will enable high quality virtual video conferencing between patient and providers, putting a 21st century-spin on the traditional “house call.” New multi-function devices designed for the home will cover most basic diagnostic and that information is shared directly with the provider via secure connection. Radiology images, lab results, EKG are shared instantly.

Physician Practice Franchising – In the future, don’t be surprised to see franchises from some of the best providers. As these organizations perfect delivery methods across the continuum of care, watch for these concepts to be patented and offered to local physicians as a ‘franchise’ approach to running a practice.

Acute Care Partnering – We see it to a degree now, but if you’re a community health provider, would it be easier to build your own nuclear medicine program or partner with one of the many specialty imaging providers popping up in urban areas? How about a community cardiac program in partnership with a premier IDN health provider specialist a thousand miles away? These partnerships are already being developed, and they will only become more prevalent and effective in the future. In truth, the cost of healthcare systems rival’s brick and mortar buildings costs and by partnering or subscribing, those can be provided as a service. This can save from expensive software purchases and installs and enable the provider to focus on patient care.

While not an entirely novel idea, the important part for organizations is to realize the broad range of flexible business options and design strategies that can help them adjust and compete as the healthcare industry continues transforming. Alliances and affiliations will increase dramatically as smaller health systems and hospitals join forces to compete in the next new frontier.

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