On the conference scene (post 4 of 5)

This is post 4 in a series of 5. For those just joining this series, I am sharing some headlines from 4 healthcare conferences I recently attended, hosted by prominent organisations. These recap posts will hopefully act as a quick update on what’s being discussed across wider healthcare circles and might reinforce or augment your thinking and work too! Each event had ‘lean forward’ moments. It is these which I’ve distilled out in the respective blog posts. I also make observations on the general buzz and vibe around the coffee and lunch tables. While these are subjective observations, I think they help in offering a perspective on current attitudes in the sector. Post 5 of 5 in the series is where I’ll have some top tips on how the typical conference formula might be updated to intensify the value, relevance and impact of these events.

The other events that are covered in this series are (hyperlinks can be followed for post 1, 2 and 3 of the series which have already been published):

1.    “Acting on Future Health” – Imperial College Business School

2.    “A Question of Quality” – HCA Healthcare UK

3.     “8th National Symposium: How patient experience data are transforming global healthcare” – iWantGreatCare

This post is on the headlines of the “Private Healthcare Summit 2017” hosted by Intuition Communications. I was honoured to have been asked to chair some of sessions at this event. Here they are:

  • Self-pay: still seen as the ‘rising star’ with estimates of between 9-12% growth (depending on who you speak to). Only problem is people are struggling with how to leverage this in being more consumer facing. I think too many are still considering this a ‘plug and play’ initiative instead of appreciating that it will require crucial strategic decision making to play in this space. This is about shifting business models towards B2C and may NOT be the right thing for every healthcare provider’s business
  • More differentiation needed amongst private players: a consistent theme throughout the conference and particularly prevalent in one of the sessions I chaired on branding and marketing in private healthcare. This differentiation will need to be on quality, value and outcomes…I’ve been banging on about this for years!
  • A focus was brought to non-surgical interventions such as physio, primary care and emotional wellbeing in the private sector: These should be considered alongside the typical surgical pathways in private care based on good evidence that outcomes (and costs) from these interventions are better for many cohorts of patients
  • New international players in the central London market: this is now reaching fever pitch given that Schoen Klinik is about to open its orthopaedic and spinal centre and Cleveland Clinic has received planning permission for a 200+ bed facility with a focus on cardiac and oncology services
  • Consultant Contracts: on the horizon and causing some deep intakes of breath since it heralds a very different mechanism for managing consultant relationships. This may take time to evolve towards formal employment contracts for all consultants in private care but some providers are already appointing specialist teams to figure this out and the IDF are actively talking to their members about how different models might work
  • International patient flows from the GCC States is drying up: The bubble has burst. “All states are cutting back on government funding of treatment abroad, bringing in compulsory health insurance schemes and investing in hospital development to keep patients at home”, quoting Keith Pollard, MD of Intuition Communications. This is good news for those wanting to take their expertise to the source market, but bad news for those wanting inbound work from those markets.

Not discussed at the conference, at least not in any of the sessions I attended, is the recent announcement by the MDU that they are ceasing to cover private spinal surgery. Yet another jolt for a market in which the fault lines are increasingly visible.

What I liked about this conference and the general vibe: The venue (QEII Centre in Westminster) was incredible with impressive views over London. I also liked the wide agenda which covered some of the critical challenges facing the private healthcare sector. The overall vibe was that the market is incredibly dynamic and threatening. It is requiring a lot of new ways of working but, I think, a rather confusing space for many who don’t know how to set their strategies within the changing dynamics.

Check out #PrivateHealthcareSummit on Twitter for more on the buzz from this event!

Thank you for reading this post. I hope you found this useful. I’d be interested in any comments or discussion that it might have inspired. This has been ‘Away from the Heard’ – the Saffron Steer blog.