This blog contains highlights from the Kaufman Hall 2019 Healthcare Leadership Conference.

It’s easy for any organization to fall into the trap of answering zero-sum, either/or questions, and healthcare providers are no exception.

For instance, what’s more important: Lowering costs or delivering excellent outcomes? Taking care of patient needs or generating cash flow? Making people feel cared for, or achieving economies of scale? Delivering on today’s commitments, or investing in the future?

Celebrated Good to Great author Jim Collins implored Healthcare Leadership Conference attendees to avoid these and other false dichotomies by tapping into the “genius of and,” avoiding the “tyranny of or” during his keynote Healthcare Leadership Conference session Thursday.

“False dichotomies are undisciplined,” Collins said.

Collins also urged healthcare leaders to set aside time to puzzle over how the industry will change over the next 15-20 years—and determine what they need to do now “to march with urgency ahead of those changes.”

“Your world is in a time of great change,” Collins said. “The time to make the biggest impact is in times of great change.”

And as healthcare leaders look into the crystal ball, the need to address rising costs and invest in consumer-centric, digitally-accessible platforms are among the most pressing future challenges peering back at them, several speakers noted Thursday.

With the average cost of an employee-sponsored healthcare plan approaching the cost of buying a new sedan each year, the current cost structure for providers is simply not sustainable, Kaufman Hall Managing Director Lance Robinson said.

“The good news - there are lots of opportunities to get costs in tune,” Robinson said, directing attendees to the 2019 Kaufman Hall State of Healthcare Performance Improvement Report.

And as Amazon, Walmart, and other companies race to develop new, digitally-focused platforms offering convenient, affordable care in a variety of settings, healthcare providers that wish to compete in the future must invest in and build their own expansive, convenient platforms before it’s too late.

“By 2030, a consumer-centric model will be the norm,” Kaufman Hall Senior Vice President Dan Clarin said. “Healthcare will be retail, and the leaders will be companies whose first and last thought will be how to serve consumers.”

But Can A.I. Tell Us Why?

Thankfully, preparing for the future is more complex than identifying the gap between how an organization operates today and how it will need to operate in a decade or two to survive. There’s also the more enjoyable pursuit of predicting what new advancements might assist in that difficult journey. And regardless of the industry, finding ways to tap into the power of artificial intelligence, or AI, is a ubiquitous component of most forward-facing strategies.

Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell University, noted Thursday that emerging algorithms are already showing the ability to compete with human performance in formulating diagnoses in the emergency room and beyond, and in considerably quicker timeframes.

But Strogatz cautioned that current AI technology is not yet capable of producing insight into how it arrives at conclusions or decisions, a critical skill for its human counterparts.

“AI [systems] can’t tell us what they’re thinking yet,” Strogatz noted, adding that the nascent field of Explanatory AI is attempting to address that.

"Insight is more than knowing what’s right or true. It’s knowing why.”

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Haydn Bush

Haydn Bush

Vice President
Haydn Bush has two decades of experience as a journalist and communications professional in healthcare and related fields. He currently serves as VP of Thought Leadership.
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