The cost of healthcare continues to increase, directly affecting all stakeholders involved: patients, employers, providers and payers. In his recently published book, Healthcare Evolution: Helping Providers Get Paid in an Era of Uncertainty, Jonathan Wiik addresses these payment concerns and offers strategies to drive improvement.
In this Q&A, Jonathan talks through some central points from his book.
Q: What is a key takeaway you intended for readers?
Jonathan Wiik: One of the most important points I wanted to drive home is we have to wake up. Our healthcare system is broken, expensive and, at times, highly inefficient. The COVID-19 pandemic has only further illuminated these issues. And it isn’t going to fix itself. We have to work together as an industry — comprised of patients, employers, providers and payers — to identify what’s working and what needs to be repaired. And while I’m hopeful we can get to a more sustainable system, it’s going to take some real talk and concessions on the part of all parties to get there.
Q: In the wake of COVID-19, why is this book so important?
Wiik: I never could’ve predicted what 2020 would bring as I was writing this book. In fact, this book was written and published all prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. That said, its content is still highly relevant — and perhaps even more so now than before. I’m hopeful the strategies outlined within will help improve our healthcare industry by serving as a roadmap to deliver the change needed. COVID-19 heightened many of the already existing uncertainties we face in our industry — care delivery, efficient operations, financial viability. It’s up to all of us now to heed this wakeup call and start implementing change to improve the patient experience, both clinically and financially, and enhance sustainability of our healthcare industry.
Q: Friction plays a big part in our broken system. Why?
Wiik: The healthcare system is barraged with friction from various sources, including a dramatic increase of costs, limited price transparency, and a lack of clarity due to government and payer rules on what is and isn’t going to get paid
This friction exists between providers and ALL payers — health plans, government and patients. People expect a seamless healthcare experience, including the financial experience, and they don’t always get it. Providers expect to know what will and won’t be paid, in advance. And payers expect rules regarding payment will be followed. Until these challenges are addressed at a holistic level by all, friction will remain. This book outlines detailed strategies (broken out by key stakeholder) for creating a more streamlined experience and industry.
Q: Are you hopeful we can turn things around and why?
Wiik: Yes. I’m starting to see a lot of forward momentum. While the government may be helping us more than we’d like these days — think surprise billing and price transparency bills — it’s mostly due to our own impatience. In many cases, our system is stuck.
Many hospitals still send paper bills, and patients often have to call to get information about their healthcare. Imagine the power of utilizing a mobile device, Internet and other technologies in healthcare to advance scheduling, appointment requests, results, payments, coordination of care, follow-up services, medication doses and more. We’re moving toward this. Once in place, this shift will help provide everyone with the tools needed to be an extension of the business office and physician. So much opportunity lies ahead for the industry to become more affordable and efficient through the use of technology and accurate data.
For more information on this book or to see where Jonathan will be speaking throughout the year, visit transunion.com/jonathan-wiik.