According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, U.S. healthcare spending grew 5.3 percent in 2014. Its total value: a staggering $3 trillion, or roughly 17.5 percent of the U.S. economy (gross domestic product). Wow. And that 5.3 percent growth rate is actually lower than in previous years, thanks largely to cost-cutting by health systems and more modest health insurance premium increases.
“Healthcare directly or indirectly affects every facet of the economy,” says Lovell Communications president and CEO Rosemary Plorin, whose firm provides strategic and crisis communications support for dozens of health systems, insurers, and pharmaceutical companies. “Disruptions that directly impact the healthcare industry inevitably ripple out and touch sectors that, on the face of things, couldn’t be more different.”
And pretty much all health industry experts agree on this point, meaning that Americans can look forward to a host of big, bold economic changes soon. The healthcare industry is riper for disruption than at any time in its history, and wildly ambitious (not to mention whip-smart) entrepreneurs are taking notice. These five innovations are set to change how we order, consume, pay for, and evaluate our healthcare, insurance, and related services — and, it follows, pretty much everything else.
Gravie is an innovative insurance solution that gets employers out of the insurance business altogether and empowers individuals to select the right plans for their needs. It’s like a health savings account for insurance: employers give their employees a set amount of money each month or year, and employees use Gravie to buy better insurance. It’s a win for employers, which continue to offer health benefits (and enjoy the attendant tax benefits) without hands-on plan management; and win for employees, who no longer have to worry about their employer plan options’ limited choice and high costs.
Zipnosis is a hot diagnostic app that allows patients to consult with doctors and nurse practitioners from the comfort of their homes. Like Gravie, it’s a win-win: patients don’t have to wait on line at clinics for care, and doctors maximize their time (and value) by moonlighting with the app.
For patients with complicated medical needs, MyChart can quite literally be a lifesaver. This app is a one-stop storage space for medical records, prescriptions, immunizations, lab results, and virtually everything else patients and their providers need to speak the same language. Think of it as a mobile EMR that doesn’t have to wait for someone at the doctor’s office or hospital to send your charts over to your current provider.
iTriage is a super-useful, potentially addictive system for people who worry just a little too much about their health. It takes the WebMD model to a whole new level, providing comprehensive, plain-language guidance for a host of symptoms. While it’s not intended to formally diagnose serious conditions, it does let users know when they’re dealing with a problem that requires hands-on care — and dutifully provides information about local providers, including directions and wait times.
Far too many healthcare consumers go without necessary medications because they’re simply not able to scrounge up the copay. That’s a travesty — but ScriptSave is on it. ScriptSave is like an insurance marketplace for prescription drugs: it compares medication prices within a predefined local area, reporting back with the best deals. The company claims that its proprietary method produces average savings of approximately 50%, though results are likely to vary based on medication and geography. Still, anything helps, particularly when it could mean the difference between life and death.
What’s your favorite healthcare app or device?