In need of a new lens on demographic trends

As we’ve discussed before, our view is the healthcare system faces two fundamental demographic challenges across the next decade.

The first is how to sustainably accommodate 80M Baby Boomers—all of whom will be over 65 within the next ten years and in the Medicare program. This will entail providers learning to care for seniors in a much lower cost, lower intensity way, and payers (the federal government and insurers) to design benefits, networks and reimbursement approaches that support a more appropriate model of care delivery.

The second, often less discussed, is how to adapt traditional delivery approaches for the (even larger) Millennial generation, who will enter their “fix me” years within the next decade, and bring their high-demand, high-information, digitally-oriented consumption behaviors to an industry that has been built for older consumers more accustomed to the “hurry up and wait” model.
Our concern for incumbents, as the graphic suggests, is that they view these two demographic challenges through the lens of their current business models and seek to protect their legacy economics.

We commonly hear provider executives talk about “taking a wait and see attitude” and having a bias toward “no-regrets moves”. Why should we embrace price transparency, destroy demand for our own services, or disrupt ourselves, while we’re still making so much money on fee-for-service medicine?

But self-disruption is becoming an urgent priority as newly-emboldened outsiders look to upend the traditional model. Players like CVS, UnitedHealth Group and others view now as the time to assemble low-cost delivery assets and redesign network and benefit structures to capture the loyalty of those Boomers in Medicare Advantage plans for the next decade or more. And technology companies from Amazon to Google see an immediate opportunity to build new models around consumer loyalty as well, moving at Internet speed.

The sooner incumbents wake up to the reality that these unprecedented demographic forces demand a new approach to doing business, the better their chance of avoiding being outflanked by these kinds of disruptors.


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