COVID-19 is a catalyst for healthcare systems to redefine their care models. It’s a never-before-seen environment characterized by a significant liquidity crunch, surging demand for telehealth services, and new competitive threats from players inside and outside of the industry.

As health systems manage the challenges of care delivery in a pandemic while planning for tomorrow, there are decisions to make. Leaders must determine which disruptions will fade when the crisis is over—and which are springboards to the NewFUTURE of care.

These models are a world apart from legacy care models—more differentiated and sustainable. And more aligned with how people consume and pay for healthcare. FutureCare blends physical and digital for effective, trusted and reliable care that meets people where they are—and delivers what they need.

Convenient and on-demand

  • Drive-through testing, 24/7 medical advice
  • Access to virtual visits rapidly expanded

Innovation in primary care

  • Use of telehealth and remote monitoring of COVID-19 patients
  • AI to identify symptomatic patients in waiting rooms

New partnerships

  • Pharmacies as clinics
  • Convention centers as hospitals
  • Distilleries as disinfectant manufacturers

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More effective. More efficient. Better quality. Better outcomes.

To get from here to there with differentiated care models that deliver value to patients, communities, payers, and providers, health systems must focus on three strategic priorities.

1. True patient centricity

Traditional care models are built on a “we know what’s best” or “we know what matters” mentality. Every aspect is organized around systems and providers, not patients. But studies show that patients care more about convenience than about credentials and continuity. After all, they are healthcare consumers who have been conditioned by digital disruptors—the same ones now entering healthcare markets—to expect seamless, responsive and fast experiences centered on them.

Moving from a provider to a patient-centric care model will be challenging for most health systems. This runs deeper than the patient experience. It requires a psychosocial and behavioral understanding of target populations as well as an ability to deliver against their preferences in several areas: service focus, physical environments, comprehensiveness, coordination, and technology enablement. Those that do this can become preferred providers for patients and employers, standing apart from the competition.


of younger consumers say that convenience of appointment times is key to satisfaction with healthcare services. (Source: Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey)


of consumers report having used walk-in or retail clinics. (Source: Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey)

2. Real value transparency

The shift from volume to value has shaped the evolution of healthcare in recent years. Not only are payers selecting health systems that demonstrate they can provide better value in terms of cost and quality, healthcare consumers are willing to shop and switch for it. Health systems that fail to act on this fundamental value dynamic do so at their own risk. There is simply no room for hedging here.

This is why health systems need value transparency. This is providing clear, consistent pricing information to patients in advance and offering cost-benefit analysis for payers and employers. Reference pricing or bundled payments are not sufficient. Predictability here is critical. Health systems that do can increase market share and drive more effective negotiations with payers to innovate and justify costs. In addition, a full view of the value picture is key to support investment decisions broadly.


of consumers would like pricing information from providers prior to care. (Source: Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey)


of consumers say that satisfaction hinges on price transparency. (Source: Accenture 2019 Digital Health Consumer Survey)

3. Strong digital foundation

The radical transformation of care models is not possible without a strong technology foundation. Advanced analytics, automation, artificial intelligence (AI), end-user devices and collaboration tools, remote diagnostics, telemedicine and digital home health solutions are all at the heart of FutureCare. So is the evolution to public cloud in healthcare. It delivers the speed and scale to stream and process data, connect devices and promote interoperability across systems and among ecosystem partners.

Health systems must understand the people who use these technologies. The clinical workforce must embrace new ways of working and new roles, operating at the top of their licenses. In addition, health systems will need to understand patients’ expectations and appetites for digital tools, determining the best way to apply them at every phase of the patient journey with different patient groups.

3out of4

reasons for switching providers relate to experience —including whether digital needs are met. (Source: Accenture 2019 Consumer Experience Benchmark Survey)


of consumers are willing to receive virtual care from traditional medical care providers. (Source: Accenture 2020 Digital Health Consumer Survey)

The now, next and future

Every health system is at a different place in the journey to FutureCare models. Even so, the case for taking urgent action is clear. The environment is unprecedented. The competition is fierce. And the opportunity to deliver breakthroughs in the quality, cost and outcomes of care are there for the taking.


Most health systems are in the throes of managing care amid a pandemic. The uncertainty is unprecedented. There is an intense focus on short-term liquidity and virtual health models.

Ensure that staff have personal protection, individual support and other tools for the job.

Offer every patient a virtual visit and look for opportunities to maintain engagement.

Make measuring change the first priority after support and implementation of change.

Look for opportunities to integrate virtual into the mainstream delivery processes.

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Once systems move out of the emergency response mode associated with COVID-19, they can begin to identify and establish effective and differentiated care models that extend beyond the crisis.

Center design around the needs and expectations of patients.

Provide an integrated and consistent omnichannel experience.

Thread a longitudinal patient record through all touchpoints.

Use the digital technologies to power the solutions.

Commit to continuous improvement to ensure models are sustainable.

Empower care teams to work at the top of their abilities.

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New Future

The ultimate goal is to develop care models that eliminate friction for patients and providers, support excellent care coordination and improve cost and outcomes with patient journey management.

Invest in automation to create meaningful connections among operational domains, reduce manual effort and improve experience for patients and providers.

Layer in AI and machine learning connected to digital tools so that real-time decisions are made by exception. As the network grows, predictive power increases and more tasks can move to AI.

Connect executives to insights so they can make real-time decisions and interventions in areas including capacity management, patient routing and staffing.

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