By Michael Curry
To call healthcare a dynamic industry is an understatement. Politics, technological advancements, research breakthroughs—these are just a few of the things that drive profound change in healthcare, even when there isn't a pandemic to reveal the flaws in the industry and drive dramatic change.
The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated many of the changes that were already in the works, including the use of video conferencing in diagnostics. Medical practices that didn't make initial investments in critical infrastructure now face a greater challenge moving forward. Today, it's important for these medical practices to adapt to market trends as quickly as possible to not only stay in practice but to deliver the best care possible to patients.
Growth and consolidation in healthcare
Perhaps the most visible change in modern health care is the growth and consolidation of providers and healthcare organizations. A study published in Health Affairs found that the share of US primary care physicians affiliated with vertically integrated health systems increased from 38 percent to 49 percent between 2016 and 2018. A report from Deloitte predicts that this trend is set to continue for the foreseeable future.
As the CEO of Apex Physics Partners, which in recent years has grown to encompass medical physics practices across the country, I've experienced the challenges of growth firsthand. For companies like Apex, the challenge becomes creating an infrastructure that allows the organization to deliver standardized care across their growing platforms. Not only that, but organizations have to do so in a tight economic environment. As they grow and consolidate, healthcare providers must find ways to boost productivity and efficiency while still addressing the public safety challenges posed by COVID-19.
Adaptability and flexibility
Just two years ago, if you had asked healthcare executives their twenty-five top concerns, the health and responsiveness of the supply chain would have been around number twenty-five. Today it's number one. The COVID-19 pandemic tested global supply chains like never before, and nowhere was that clearer than in the healthcare industry, as the world struggled to get PPE, respirators, therapies, and vaccines where they were most needed.
In this area and in others, operational flexibility and the ability to effectively leverage technology are vital. On the technology side, healthcare providers have an opportunity to use sophisticated software and analytics to more effectively manage inventory, to anticipate needs, to and ensure that the supply chain serves all parts of the business equally.