Author: Nikhil Bhojwani

Recon takes an analytical look behind select developments in healthcare

AI in healthcare III: COVID-19 applications and implications

COVID-19 has accelerated the adoption of AI in healthcare. AI based tools and solutions can work quickly, be deployed at scale, and respond to the dynamic nature of the crisis. Use-cases span all facets of responding to the pandemic, from diagnosis and triage, to treatment and combating new transmission. A wide range of players—including startups, established companies, universities, and more—are bringing their capabilities and perspectives to the table. Startups like Current Health, a UK-based remote-monitoring company supporting Mayo Clinic and Baptist Health with their COVID-19 response, are benefitting the industry’s

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Strategy in the Time of Covid

Preamble A recent post from Recon Strategy outlined the longer-term strategic implications of Covid-19 on 12 healthcare sectors. This post highlights the opportunity to redeploy corporate strategy assets to focus on the most important short-term strategy imperatives to not only ensure organizational resilience but to set up for success coming out of this crisis. Corporate strategy teams have tremendous analytical, creative, and operationally savvy resources that are accustomed to jumping into new situations, getting quickly up-to-speed, and delivering value. Leaders should proactively point these resources towards these areas of greatest

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The day after: Implications for hospitals, payers, biotech and more…

Even as our priority today is dealing with the Covid crisis, healthcare organizations would do well to start thinking about the longer-term implications for their strategies. In some instances the marketplace will revert to the prior dynamic, but in many others the changes wrought during this crisis are likely to persist in a way that will call for new strategy or will produce unpredictable outcomes that will require scenario planning. Sectors will be impacted in very different ways and there will be winners and losers in each. In this short

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The future of cancer care: A bird’s-eye view

The recent World Medical Innovation Forum on Cancer convened by Partners Healthcare in Boston was attended by leaders in oncology from around the world including top: clinicians, bench scientists, policy leaders, and executives from hospitals and life-science companies.  Two plus days of intense discussion and sharing of perspectives ably curated by Partners Innovation head Chris Coburn covered a range of topics from technology developments, to the healthcare system, and the patient/ doctor perspectives. The mind-map below is an attempt to organize the key themes that I heard through the conference and to try to convey why I came away

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Biopharma risk-sharing: what needs to happen

A couple of years ago, we addressed the question of whether drug companies could use new business models to capture more of the value they create. At the time, we pointed out that drug makers had struggled to get payers interested in new models, and that any potential solution would need to consider aspects of the drug (as it relates to the overall care paradigm and system), and of the payer. Fast forward to 2016, and there are a number of factors that suggest that now may be the right time for drug makers and payers

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Can drug companies make drugs, AND money?

In this morning’s New York Times (June 3,2014), Andrew Ross Sorkin asks,“DO drug companies make drugs, OR money”? That’s a fair question in the context of what I’ll call a “fee-for-product” reimbursement regime. Another way to look at this question is, “CAN drug companies make drugs, AND money”? Value has not been an easy sell As the U.S. healthcare services system moves from fee-for-service to a value-based system, the biotech and pharmaceutical (biopharma) industry should have an opportunity to capture more of the value it creates. But with drug costs only ~10%

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Boiling the Ocean…or not

We’ve all heard the term, “Boiling the Ocean” to refer to an approach that is broad and ambitious and generally leads to lots of work and very little insight.  Historians will argue about whether it was Will Rogers or Mark Twain or someone else who first used this phrase but that’s besides the point. As the story goes: In 1914 the Germans were sinking U.S. ships in the North Atlantic. It was a turkey shoot because the Germans had the U-boat and we didn’t. Somebody asked the American folk philosopher

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MA hospital relative prices by payer

Here’s a quick look at relative prices in MA using CHIA data for you to play with. What you could do for instance is select Commercial and Medicare on the left (use CTRL key for multiple selection) and then on the right, check off say only BCBS. That wold show you the difference between TMEs for Medicare and Commercial just for BCBS. Can also filter by hospital system (on the right). Have fun. P.S. You may need to scroll to the right or re-size on your browser (CTRL -) to

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Staked out territory by Massachusetts hospital systems

In 2011, we would tell our payer clients (tongue firmly ensconced in cheek) that the answer to all questions was “private exchanges.” In 2012, the punchline changed to “narrow networks.” In 2013, what is not a joke is that payers and health systems are really having to grapple with difficult strategic choices on partnerships, affiliations and M&A relating to facilities and medical groups in order to actually deliver on the value promise of narrow networks (higher value care).Two key inputs into these choices are: The geographic catchment area of each

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Could the Employer Mandate lead to reduced coverage?

When it comes to employee benefits, employers need to be generous either to attract and retain talent or because it is “the right thing to do”. The recession and jobless recovery has unquestionably reduced the first imperative and it appears now that the employer mandate penalty may perversely be gutting the second. Why? A classic paper in the Journal of Legal Studies (Gneezy, Rustichini 2005) looked at the impact of introducing fines for parents who were late to pick up their kids at daycare centers. Lateness INCREASED. Subsequently when the

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Ambidextrous strategy: PART 2 – Scenario Implications

In our last post we introduced two potential scenarios. “Provider bastions” in which buyers of health care services select upfront the network that they will trust to deliver their care in a coordinated manner.  “Value-based deconstruction” in which buyers of healthcare choose the site-of-service for every interaction with the delivery system based on incentives built on micro level information about value – outcomes and cost.  Obviously there are factors unique to firms that will have a tremendous impact on optimal strategic choices for them. All we do here is raise

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Ambidextrous strategy: PART 1 – Payer and provider strategy for two very different worlds

It seems like every day there’s some news outlining strategic actions that various players are taking or other developments with respect to health reform. Here’s a sample of recent news: Employer adopts a tightly limited provider network  Customers sign on to private exchange Hospital chain grows through acquisition Insurers boycott state exchange Health systems drop out of ACOs Payer collaborates with provider systems to target Medicaid population All of these represent choices or “bets” that firms are making based on a view of a healthcare world facing clear trends. More

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Could a delay in the employer mandate be a boost to government run exchanges?

In 2011 we commented that while the health reform law, the ACA, had several positive intended consequences, it also could spawn several perverse effects and side-effects. Now in an attempt to ward off some of those unintended consequences, the administration has delayed the employer mandate from 2014 to 2015. Reactions range from praise (from the unlikely alliance of Democrats and business groups), derision (from Republicans and right leaning think tanks) and bemusement or befuddlement (across the spectrum). Of course, perturbing a portion of a complex system has ripple effects of

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Readmissions rate fallacy

Today’s piece in Kaiser Health News that hospitals’ readmissions rates are flat appears to suggest various ongoing efforts to cut readmissions are failing and failing badly. According to the Medicare data used by Kaiser, the readmission rate for heart failure was 24.8% in 2008-10 and 24.7% in 2009-11 giving us the 0.1% decline cited by Kaiser. Comparing 2011 to 2008, this is a 0.3% difference, still not sufficient to convince us that there is a real change. But don’t write off those efforts yet as there may be a silver

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Emerging Unintended Consequences of Health Care Reform

In complex system, even small changes can have big, unexpected consequences.  These are occasionally beneficial but more often than not have a negative impact.     Over the last year we have started to see some evidence for unintended consequences from the health care reform act.  Negative impacts that we see are of two kinds: Perverse effects that directly affect the objectives of the act and side-effects that manifest in seemingly unrelated areas (see figure below). It is not the intent here to comment on the overall merits or demerits of

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Conventional wisdom that provider capacity drives cost questioned in new study

Remember the idea that coordination will improve care? Well, if physicians do not get timely reports from other providers, their patients seem to have lower costs!!!  This from a new study out from the Center for Studying Health System Change.  More importantly, this paper throws cold water on the idea that providers generate a lot of unnecessary cost to fill up excess capacity in the delivery system.   As you know, conventional wisdom driven by the Dartmouth Atlas and other studies has it that that care utilization and cost can vary sharply across regions without

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Surprising implication of drivers of Medicare FFS variation – MedPAC

New MedPAC report on Medicare fee for service utilization finds large geographic variation not explained by underlying risk or better outcomes. Another indicator of our HC system gone haywire.    A couple of overarching datapoints highlight the variation.  Only 25% of Medicare enrollees live in regions where Medicare spending is within 5% of the national average (looking only at utilization the # is 30%) Spending in top decile region was 55% greater than spending in the bottom decile region (looking only at utilization, the # is 30%) But that is not the

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Health care reform not so easy to derail

Prediction 1: Despite all the beating of drums we do not think there will be any major legislative changes between now and 2012. controlling the house but not the senate and the White House does not give Republicans sufficient clout to fundamentally change the bill it is politically advantageous for the Republicans to keep the Democrats on the defensive on health care through the 2012 election cycle Prediction 2: Administrative proceedings with implementation of the big milestones will continue though there will be considerable friction and much name calling some

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If you’re on Medicare – don’t fall sick

A friend of mine pointed out some shocking data from a report released today from the Office of Inspector General. More than a quarter of Medicare hospitalizations result in adverse events, half of them “serious” (meaning prolonged hospital stay, permanent harm, need for life sustaining intervention, death).  Strikingly, almost half these situations arise are preventable.  In other words they are the result of medical errors, sub-standard care, lack of patient monitoring and assessment and hospital acquired infections!  According to the study, these cost the taxpayer over $4 billion in 2008

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