Somehow, the U.S. spends 18% of our total GDP on healthcare and still lags behind other industries with a lack of interoperability, red tape, legacy systems and outdated billing processes. With the seismic urgency of COVID-19, change finally began to usher in.

Healthcare is no longer a trip to your primary care physician or plan enrollment. The industry is now a hybrid of digital and analog, local and global. The digital consumer of 2021 has needs and expectations for usability, connectivity, hyper-personalization, contextualization and integration. Meaning a patient’s care preferences are now as important as their care plans. These shifting consumer habits, coupled with the rise of digital health, are swiftly prompting a new landscape. Fusing the healthcare ecosystem into an unexpected mashup of organizations, technologies, care delivery and payment models.

In a post-pandemic world, every stakeholder must pioneer progress with digital transformation – because there’s no “going back” to our laggard position. From startups to mega-mergers to innovative payers, providers and life sciences players, we can better our industry by taking ideas to scale and driving better health, wealth and well-being outcomes.

The Evolution

As healthcare moves mainstream, organizations of all sizes are placing bets on vertical integration, digital enablement and the transformation and growth of ecosystems. Despite the economic turbulence of 2020, healthcare merger and acquisition (M&A) activity is increasing exponentially. The first half of 2021 secured $14.7B in digital health funding, already surpassing all of 2020’s funding with an average deal size of $39.6M.

In August Humana completed their acquisition of home health and hospice provider, Kindred at Home. In a combined $8.1B deal, Humana is now the nation’s largest provider of home care services.

“We continue to invest in assets that allow Humana to better manage the holistic needs of our members and patients by expanding care in the home, including primary care, telehealth and emergency room care, while also addressing social determinants of health,” said Bruce Broussard, Humana’s President and Chief Executive Officer.

With these new deals and holistic M&A strategies, the distinction between payer and provider continues to blur. As the current economy presents as many opportunities for investors as it does risk, digital health’s potential impact on healthcare is too strong to be ignored.

The Incubation

To accelerate the pace of healthcare transformation, organizations like Anthem, Mayo Clinic and AstraZeneca are embracing new, transformative approaches. With the growing popularity of innovation incubators and accelerators, major players can enable speed to market with access to funding, resources and scalability.

“[The Anthem Digital Incubator] matches Anthem’s knowledge, experiences and resources with innovative and nimble entrepreneurs who share the desire to deliver personalized, proactive and predictive healthcare solutions that help improve a person’s health and wellbeing,” said Kate Merton, Anthem’s Staff Vice President of Digital Care Delivery.

As we know from our own work, a true partnership requires partners. Looking to the future, these collaborations of healthcare entrepreneurs, startups and industry leaders set in motion a much-needed path to scalability for novel ideas and solutions.

The Disruption

Healthcare’s disruptors include anyone iterating innovation to deliver solutions to healthcare’s unmet needs. This looks like thought leaders, startups and technology, but disruptors can also be partnerships and ideas.

In the face of a common enemy, the pandemic encouraged traditional and non-traditional stakeholders to impact healthcare transformation through mergers, partnerships and innovation. Disruptors like Transcarent and Headspace started driving focus on individual health and well-being while telehealth and other digital services like Teledoc were catapulted into the mainstream of care delivery.

“People realize they can get more convenient, better access to care and care that takes advantage of technology and the use of data to aggregate data sources to deliver better insights for the consumer that are more personalized and better insights for the physician so they can do just in time personalized interventions,” said Teledoc’s Chief Executive Officer Jason Gorevic.

This collective ambition is scaling progress for next-level innovations in all aspects of healthcare. In tandem, consumer demands for easy, digital experiences are intertwining capabilities and solutions. Together, the healthcare ecosystem can grow, connecting trailblazers to transform the future of healthcare.

Pioneering Progress

While healthcare has made great strides, there is still much more to be done. Forward-thinking leaders are ready to embrace transformative change and pioneer progress. By fusing our industry together, we can make sense of the new landscape, predict behaviors and forge novel relationships.

At our Annual emids Healthcare Summit, we strategically put together the right people for discussions that initiate transformative change.

To hear how successful companies are leveraging technology to differentiate themselves and drive better health, wealth and well-being, join us at the 8th Annual emids Healthcare Summit on November 10-11th.

Michael Hollis, President Strategic Business at emids, oversees the company’s marketing and sales operations. He is responsible for overall sales effectiveness, business development and client relationships, as well as for articulating the company’s service offerings to prospective clients and industries. Michael is an active member of Nashville’s professional and nonprofit community, serving on several advisory boards and as a committee member of the Nashville Technology Council and the Nashville Health Care Council’s Leadership Health Care initiative. Be sure to connect with Michael on LinkedIn.