Four 2020 Healthcare Predictions


What's around the bend for partnerships, politics, personalization, and technology.

Jeff Margolis and Sam Glick

7 min read

Editor's Note: In a recent webinar, two industry veterans from Welltok and Oliver Wyman shared new predictions on how 2020 may unfold regarding partnerships, politics, personalization, and technology. Here's more on what they had to say.

Prediction 1: Unexpected Partnerships Will Become the Norm 

With healthcare being one of the biggest categories of services that people offer and buy, more businesses are motivated to think differently about how they can attract and engage consumers by offering easy access to healthcare. This will lead to ongoing integration of services, like we are already seeing in retail, but also more competitors cooperating with each other while they compete — engaging in "coopetition," to borrow a Silicon Valley phrase.

“This portends good opportunities for change because when we see these non-traditional partnerships, they are often between parts of the healthcare system that were actually at odds with each other in the not too distant past."

“Those who really have the strongest relationships with consumers are not traditional healthcare players. They are retailers, technology companies, and community organizations. We are going to see a lot more of these non-traditional partnerships because bringing together access to consumers is really important." 

Prediction 2: The 2020 Election Doesn't Change the Course

Despite having two drastically different administrations in the White House from the Obama to Trump presidencies, the healthcare solutions they propose focus on similar things like better cost transparency and a push to value. However, these policies are not focused on addressing where consumers are spending most of their healthcare dollars or supporting total health and well-being.

“We have a great opportunity to get convergence around the concept of looking beyond just sick care and taking a whole person view. This is significant because 70 percent of our health status as individuals or as a population is driven by social determinants and daily living, not just what occurs in a clinical setting.”

“Sick care is the most expensive thing we do. Controlling total cost of care involves engaging the person as a whole consumer. The single best way to shrink healthcare costs for both the system and consumer is to keep people from needing to come in for sick care in the first place.”

Prediction 3: Early Personalization Efforts are Less Than Personal

Personalization at best feels like a flow chart in most cases, with early attempts offering the same set of questions on an intake survey regardless of who is taking it. But there’s a reason — solving the problem of right solution, right person, right time, and right setting — is extremely difficult.

“No one has really come into this market with a new type of complete whole solution to deliver true personalization. Putting together all the social determinants variables and all the other pieces is 100 times harder than trying to figure out what the right clinical treatment is for a person. I think we [Welltok] are incredibly close.”

“Personalization is a two-way street. We have to have the right thing to offer - and have consumers change their behavior. For example, most people use video at work or FaceTime to talk with family, yet while an estimated 70 percent of consumers have access to at least one telemedicine solution, fewer than 10 percent of them have ever used it.”

Prediction 4: Technology Will Make Healthcare More Human 

There is a lot of fear out there that even when we get it right, technology is going to remove the human touch from healthcare. But the future is promising. For example, when used in the right way — like using an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot to deliver faster, accurate answers instead of making people wait forever on the phone — technology is already enabling the industry to start putting the right resources in front of the right people, which benefits all parties involved.

“Information technology is going to increase humanity. There’s a tremendous difference between saying who’s at risk versus how a person achieves optimal health. If we use data to understand how to drive optimal health instead of just defeating health risks, we can create personalized experiences for people who are in different situations, social settings, life stages, and economics.”

“Organizations thinking about technology are asking themselves, ‘Am I doing this just for my benefit or for my customers’ benefit?’ Doing it for your benefit is like self-checkout, which nobody likes and often doesn’t work very well. On the other hand, good technology — like OpenTable or a lot of the stuff I do on my smartphone — actually makes my life easier, too.”

  • Jeff Margolis and
  • Sam Glick