The last 18 months presented many challenges for our nation and healthcare system. The pandemic also highlighted areas in which we must adapt and innovate to meet the needs of the future. Throughout our history, “We the People” have consistently risen to the occasion, turning hurdles into opportunities, and overcoming adversity to make progress and build a better tomorrow.
Across the U.S., major industries including retail, dining, and travel have undergone digital transformations that have supported rapidly evolving consumer preferences in recent years. Consumer demands, disruptors entering the playing field, and pandemic needs helped accelerate much-needed change in the marketplace. More than any other industry, healthcare has needed to adapt to an ever-changing landscape to address the public health crisis.
It is no secret that Utah is on the cutting-edge of healthcare innovation. Providers in the Beehive State are influencing this shift by creating solutions that meet worker and consumer preferences, leading the nation in the development of consumer-focused, accessible, and affordable healthcare.
Just one example of this progress is Intermountain Healthcare, a Utah-based integrated health system with 24 hospitals and more than 2,400 physicians. These professionals are forging ahead in transitions from fee-for-service to value-based healthcare, which better aligns health systems, providers, and insurers to incentivize innovative care.
This value-based model facilitates a cost structure and environment that makes it easier and more affordable to provide and access quality healthcare. Digitally enabled care and communication tools help keep patients healthy and out of the hospital while improving the healthcare experience, boosting care quality, and, most importantly, lowering costs.
Utah health systems collaborate both in pre-pandemic and post-pandemic times. Particularly as COVID-19 disrupted normalcy in the field, these health systems worked together in sharing resources and partnering in care delivery, infection control, testing, and vaccination efforts. They also shared key learnings and ideas on patient access to care.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also driven increased adoption of digital healthcare solutions. Even as case counts lower and more people get vaccinated, the industry predicts consumers will continue to desire healthcare at their fingertips. To keep people healthy and strong, healthcare will need to meet people where they are: home, work, school, travel, and everywhere in between.
Utah health systems have incorporated video and communications technology to facilitate care delivery and services. Intermountain and other providers offer hospital-level care at home as an alternative to inpatient stays. At IHC, for example, these programs have supported thousands of patients requiring acute care, with an estimated 20-30% reduction in out-of-pocket costs.
Scheduled video visits also allow primary care and specialty providers to conduct visits and follow-up communications virtually with patients. The patient’s ability to communicate frequently with their provider, even for non-acute care, has quite literally saved thousands of lives amidst the pandemic.
During my career playing in the NFL, I learned that one of the true markers of a great team is having the ability to make the right in-game adjustments. By transitioning to a value-based care model and expanding digital healthcare access, we can make quality care more affordable while also delivering improved outcomes. Thomas Edison once said, “The value of an idea lies in the using of it.” Utahns are benefitting from healthcare innovation and can be a model to lead the rest of the nation forward.
• U.S. Representative Burgess Owens, Utah Republican, represents the Fourth Congressional District. He serves on the House Judiciary Committee, the House Education and Labor Committee, and as the Ranking Member of the House Early Childhood, Elementary, and Secondary Education Subcommittee. He believes in dreaming big and follows the four guiding principles of faith, family, free markets, and education. Earlier in his career, Owens played ten seasons in the NFL for the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, winning the Superbowl with the 1980 Raiders’ team.