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What Will Health Care Look Like in 2030?

Designing Optimal Health: When the Present Meets the Future

One of the three pillars of Blue Shield of California’s Health Care Model of the Future (HCMF) is holistic health, which describes many factors such as housing, violence and food insecurity that influence a person’s health and well-being beyond medical care.

One aspect of our HCMF strategy is to build the data, technology and payment infrastructure required to address individuals’ immediate social needs like food, transportation and social connections.

Another strategy will focus on identifying the root causes of these issues to help find and support root solutions. We believe the combination of these strategies will achieve better health, smarter and more affordable care, and more satisfied members and providers.

Paradise Medical Group’s James Logan, M.D., (left) demonstrates the new PMG Connect virtual care platform that allows patients to see Paradise Medical Group (PMG) providers via mobile phone, tablet or personal computer. PMG is part of Blue Shield's Health Care Model of the Future pilot project.

That is why I am honored to serve as one of the co-chairs of the Foresight project, which was started in 2018 to engage a wide range of stakeholders to take a future-back view to design, test and build a better American health system for 2030.

Roots in a Tragedy

In September 2018, Blue Shield engaged with Paradise Medical Group (PMG) in Butte County to participate in a pilot project to test different health care delivery and payment mechanisms. The pilot was also designed to test new technologies and practice workflows in a rural area to inform our policies and practices. In early November 2018, the Camp Fire struck, devastating the Paradise and killing 85 people. Blue Shield shifted into philanthropic mode – as did many others to support the community at a time of great need – to ensure that PMG could survive. Often the story closes here when the world moves on to the next crisis or distraction.

Blue Shield remained engaged with PMG to help the practice rebuild to meet the needs of the dispersed population. We started by building out extensive telehealth capabilities to enable access to care, which is, not surprisingly, easier than retrofitting the existing delivery system. If the story ended here, it would be a feel-good, redemptive story. Now that PMG is operational, we are called to understand the underlying patterns and trends to explore why wildfires are the new normal for our state and to understand the rapidly changing nature of the economy in rural areas. Once we analyze the data and engage community members, we will offer new solutions to ensure a better future for Paradise and for California.

What Will Health Care Look Like in 2030?

I believe the Foresight project will be an important resource for this longer journey. Foresight is led by the Rippel Foundation and was conceived in partnership with Blue Shield of California Foundation. Since its launch, we have gained many active supporters on our advisory committee and work groups who represent the most forward-thinking national and regional leaders on health and well-being.

The initiative came about in 2018 when a group of us who knew we needed to influence the future of health became interested in knowing what our end goal in 2030 should be. What could a transformed system that produces health and well-being actually look like?

Through Foresight, we are now working with leaders from across the nation to use a futures planning process to envision, articulate and ultimately implement the kind of system we really need – one that is equitable, imaginative and fundamentally different from what we have today. We believe that working backwards from the future, with a deep appreciation for what’s to come, will help us get unstuck from our current patterns of thinking and acting.

Of course, there are a number of potential gamechangers, such as environmental breakdown, that impact us. The world around us is changing quickly and while we pursue our HCMF strategies and plans with the knowledge we have today, we must be attune to these forces of change, and determine how to best integrate, adapt and shape them as we move into the future.

The Foresight project is challenging us to move beyond solving the problems of a system that no longer serves us well and to think radically. Only with this mindset will we be able to generate a vision for a new system for health and well-being where all people are thriving and gain a solid understanding of what it would take to establish it.

Combining the insights from Foresight and HCMoF, we will never stop innovating to improve health.

Peter Long is senior vice president of Healthcare and Community Health Transformation at Blue Shield of California.