UPMC’s Rasu Shrestha on Consumer Health in ‘Big’ Healthcare

UPMC’s Rasu Shrestha on Consumer Health in ‘Big’ Healthcare

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The phrase ‘consumer health’ doesn’t mean what it used to. And, when you really think about it, neither does the word ‘consumer.’ We’ve changed. Wielding the power of our smart phones, wearable devices, and proximity to CVS Minute Clinics – and armed with expectations of near-instant gratification thanks to the Amazons and Ubers of the world – we’re more demanding, exacting and impatient of the health system than ever before.

As all of this starts to change demand, supply, and (fingers crossed) our entire industry, it’s tempting to focus on what the new guys are doing. I’m as guilty as any for being fixated on the doings of the big tech companies and sexy little startups that are coming into our space. But, the reality is that the greatest amount of change will have to come from those stalwarts of the ‘healthcare establishment’ – the health systems and the payers that ARE the system in and of itself.

So, how are they thinking about the consumerization of healthcare? What does it mean to ‘empower consumers’ when your organization is bearing the risk associated with caring for their lives? Lucky for us, Dr. Rasu Shrestha, Chief Innovation Officer of health-system/payer-system giant UPMC can break it down.

Warning: This interview is long and heady, but, man, is it ever worth it. Rasu talks about the macroeconomics of shifting risk from insurers to providers and consumers, business model implications for all players involved, and how the ‘free the data’ movement feeds into all this. Last but not least, he talks about the kinds of startups he’s hoping will help payers and providers usher in this new consumer-driven era.

If you’re doing any kind of business in healthcare today, you’ll want to give this a listen. And, if Rasu wants to add another doctorate to his name, this interview analyzing ‘the macroeconomics and shifting risk environment of the consumerization of healthcare’ might be the start of his dissertation. We’ll look for our @wtf_health footnote.

Get a glimpse of the future of healthcare by meeting the people who are going to change it. Find more WTF Health interviews here or check out www.wtf.health. Filmed at the Bayer G4A Accelerator Launch in NYC, May 2018.

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1 Comment on "UPMC’s Rasu Shrestha on Consumer Health in ‘Big’ Healthcare"


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Barry Carol
Today 7:01 am

I’m skeptical. UPMC is the largest healthcare provider in the Pittsburgh region. It uses its market power to extract the highest reimbursement rates from commercial payers. The last I heard, it makes little or no money on its health insurance business. Even if it successfully absorbs risk on its provider side, it’s highly unlikely that health insurance premiums in the region will decline or grow less slowly than elsewhere.

Apps and patient engagement are great. I use two cardiac apps and a physical therapy app myself but they haven’t reduced needed care as far as I can tell. Also, while I own a home blood pressure monitor, I don’t use it because if I get a high reading it will make be anxious and create more problems than it solves.

The healthcare system would be better off with disclosure of actual contract reimbursement rates so patients and doctors can identify the most cost-effective high quality providers in real time and direct more of their business to them. They can’t now. Sensible tort reform would be helpful as well in eventually leading to less testing-intensive physician practice patterns.