Kaiser Permanente CEO Bernard Tyson believes three major trends are driving changes in the healthcare system, he said during his keynote on the final day of the Health 2.0 event in Santa Clara, California. Those include a shift to holistic, lifelong care; the rise of the patient as active healthcare consumer; and the decentralization of healthcare.
"Eventually, as we disrupt the healthcare system and as others on the outside get into healthcare, there is no question that the healthcare system is going to evolve from its current state of a 'fix me' system, to it’s future state as a total health system," Tyson said. He added that right now, if you conceptually lay out the years of a person's life from birth to death, most of our system's spending on a person happens right before death. Creative opportunities lie in ways to "move and shift resources toward maximizing the healthy life years of individuals."
The second trend arises out of patients becoming more empowered and having more choices around their care.
"In most of the industry, coverage is provided by the employer and then the government," Tyson said. "But as the patient is now paying more and more, they are starting to behave as an active consumer. They’re asking very different questions of the industry now, questions focused on health and maximizing value and volume."
To illustrate the third trend, Tyson provided some concrete examples of steps Kaiser is taking. He described this trend as "the move from 'you go to a place for healthcare' to healthcare being distributed to multiple areas in a person’s life," and, as an example cited the 14 million e-visits that were done through Kaiser last year.
Tyson also pontificated on some of the highest profile up-and-coming health technologies, and how they could shape care. Weighing in on a popular back and forth sparked by investor Vinod Khosla, Tyson extolled the potential of artificial intelligence tools like IBM's Watson, while reaffirming the central role of the physician, even in the future of care.
"I don’t care how wonderful an airplane is today, it still requires a pilot to do certain things," he said. "And the health industry of the future will have the kind of apparatus around it to help the human intelligence to make the right choices and the right decisions to maximize a person’s healthy years as they move forward. Someone said to me, is it at a point now where people won’t be needed? Everything still relies on human interaction and human intervention."
Finally, Tyson evoked a fourth trend, one epitomized by technologies like genomics and pill sensors like Proteus Digital Health's offering: personalized medicine.
"In the end, we’re going to end up being able to actually personalize each individual's care patterns," he said. "The question of 'Who am I?' is going to be a very different question in our future."