Health and Wellness

Industry Perspectives: The Economics of Health and Wellness

Two patients meeting with a doctor.

For the third installment of our Industry Perspective series, we turn our focus towards the economics of health and wellness. Factors such as high healthcare costs, labor market shortages and inflationary pressure are all contributing to a rapidly changing environment in the healthcare space. We asked thought leaders to share their thoughts on these changes and their predictions for the future.

Sam Robinson, Chief Health Plan Officer, Microsoft US Healthcare and Life Sciences

John Barto, Chief Digital Transformation Officer, Microsoft US Healthcare and Life Sciences

What are your thoughts on the future of the healthcare economy in the US or globally?

The cost of healthcare, particularly in the United States, is becoming a limiting factor to competing on the world stage. Like other industries, when costs become unbearable, consumers find better ways to obtain these needed services. Consumerization is just beginning to influence the models of care because consumers are bearing a larger portion of care cost and have greater control through the rapid adoption of high deductible payment models. On the supply side, care workers are burnt out and they too are being offered choices, driving up the cost of care delivery. Consumerization in other industries has resulted in winners and losers. The key in a consumer-oriented market is to efficiently produce desirable buying and delivery experiences customized to the engagement habits of different generations for consumers and delivery resources alike. 

How will current macroeconomic trends impact the next 3-5 years?

Inflationary pressure combined with labor market shortages will continue to place increasing labor costs and likely lead to top of license clinical practice and expanded use of all care team members. New modalities of care, such as virtual health and care at home, or outside the traditional hospital setting, will also grow exponentially. In addition, an aging population and increasing mental health requirements exposed even more by the pandemic, and a worsening economic outlook, will produce additional demands on both government funding and health delivery resources.

How might an improved focus on health and wellness change the future economic trajectory?

An increasing health and wellness focus will not only provide opportunities for new and existing players but should lead to a significant decrease in costly chronic disease burden. This should free up traditional acute care settings to be applied to additional health and wellness initiatives and make wellness and capitated medicine service models increasingly attractive for those that can effectively influence wellness through creative delivery experiences.  This will require additional data and information infrastructure, including device management, remote patient monitoring and increased reporting and management of diverse information sources.