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Cutting out the healthcare middlemen

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The Grand Bazaar in Istanbul.

Herewith five areas of healthcare ready to cut out all or some of the middlemen:

“In fact, the perfect storm is brewing in healthcare for disintermediation right now.” reports Becker’s Hospital Review in an interview with Paul Keckley, Ph.D., managing editor of  The Keckley Report.

“{T]hree forces — large health systems, pharmaceutical retailers and major payers — are perfectly positioned to knock out a few layers of the healthcare food chain.”

1. Drug companies. There may be a quicker and cheaper way for patients to obtain pharmaceutical drugs, such as through direct sales to consumers. However, this is not a one-size-fits-all projection, Mr. Keckley told Becker’s.

2. Rural hospitals.  Big regional health systems will put rural providers into networks and move capital from inpatient acute care to skilled nursing, rehab and primary care. Telehealth will help connect specialists in urban and suburban areas with rural primary- care providers.

3. Academic medical centers: They will face many more competitors with lower costs as healthcare price-and-quality transparency increases. Patients are finding that they can get care  at the nonacademic hospitals that’s as good  as that at teaching hospitals. But who will protect the research mission?

4. Private insurers. They’ll have to compete with more and more health systems offering their own insurance plans to their patients and their families.

5. Physicians. Consumers want more access, engagement and transparency. They’re also less attached to  specific physicians and more open to non-physician clinicians, retail clinics and other venues that make care more convenient and often cheaper than going to U.S. physicians, who remain by far the world’s highest paid.

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