The Shifting Value of Health Care Explained with Professor Kim MacPherson

Kim MacPhersonThe health care environment isn’t just changing for digital technology, it is also changing in education for instructors and professionals like Kim MacPherson, the Associate Director of UC Berkeley’s Center for Health Technology. Kim MacPherson will be joining forces with Health 2.0 EDU October 3rd, as part of a three-day executive education course on digital health, where she will share her insights as to how and why this changing environment is important to the value of health care:

EDU: Can you discuss the origins of the shift from volume to value in health care and why this concept is fundamental to the marketplace today?

KM: We have seen multiple attempts over the years to shift away from a volume mentality, but it has been thwarted in the past, in part by the lack of technology and actionable information to support value based efforts. Right now we are seeing an exciting convergence of economic and policy signals, a growing demand to prioritize value by employers and consumers, as well as acceptance by providers that change is inevitable. The focus on outcomes over volume and the new access to timely and more accurate cost and quality data makes the shift to a value focus possible on a larger scale than ever before.

EDU: In what key way is digital technology changing how the marketplace derives economic value in health care?

KM: For me it comes down to engagement, connectivity, and decision support: How to get the right parties meaningfully involved, make sure they have a clear pathway to follow to achieve the desired outcome, and are well supported with actionable information so the entire interaction creates value. This will involve a diverse range of technology including, tele-health, crowd-sourcing, digital diagnostic tools, protocol/pathway tools/simulations, stratification software, and consumer directed applications. We historically have seen a great deal of wasted time and resources when elements of this chain are not in place or are ineffective.  The default to status quo is very easy in health care where there is a high degree of resistance to change by all stakeholders and where outcomes are not easily defined or agreed upon in advance. Digital technology enables change, making new processes and ways of improving health care delivery, financing and patient outcomes finally within reach.

EDU: How have some of the financial and research organizations you have consulted for best used digital technology to improve both outcomes and their bottom line?

KM: Lately I have been most interested in some of the digital technology aimed at consumer engagement; How do we get people involved in both their own health and their health care? Digital technology is being used by health plans and large employers that I work with to both promote wellness through “gaming” style competition applications and web-based technology that allows them to “shop” for the best services. The ability to personalize the experience seems to be a key dimension and a lever to promote real behavior change. Through these applications to digital technology, they hope to shift emphasis and resources toward prevention, improve worker productivity and satisfaction and over time, and see meaningful change in health as well as in their benefit costs.

EDU: How will this Health 2.0 EDU course differ from your usual classes at the UC Berkeley School of Public Health?

KM: In some ways it will be similar as I use a highly interactive format in both environments.  The main difference is that I typically teach classes at Berkeley where digital technology is one facet of the overall course material vs. it being the focus. My areas of specialization involve health care finance, policy interpretation and understanding the incentives that drive a range of stakeholder behavior within health care.  This course offers the chance to go a little deeper into this one key element: examining how some of these core health care areas touch and are impacted by digital technology.

EDU: What are you most looking forward to in your upcoming UC Berkeley course with Health 2.0 EDU, and what do you hope your students will take away?

KM: I am mainly looking forward to engaging with the diverse and dynamic participants. I love the energy and enthusiasm of Berkeley graduate students, but it is also stimulating to have industry professionals in a course, bringing their perspective and more immediate issues into the discussions. I hope that they get some economic and policy context that can stimulate new insights into their work. I also hope that being in an environment that fosters open interaction and exposure to material that may be new or unfamiliar, pushes them outside of their day-to-day roles and thought processes to consider different approaches and ideas to existing challenges.

Registration for the executive course ends September 1, 2013. The full agenda is available HERE.

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