This is the third installment in a three-part series on the Council’s international study mission to the United Kingdom. Click here to read Part One and Part Two.

While the U.K.’s situation is complicated by the looming and still uncertain impact of Brexit, the Council mission revealed that the U.K. and the U.S. are not alone in our work to create more sustainable health care systems. Globally, health care is at a transformative moment.

Panelists at the study mission in London shared that nearly every civilized democracy in Western Europe faces the same issues: increasing costs juxtaposed with increasing demand for access to the highest-quality care possible.

Now more than ever, health care leaders need global collaboration, dialogue and the exchange of ideas to successfully evolve their respective delivery systems and organizations. Collectively, public and private health care systems in the U.S., the U.K. and Europe face a maturation of the industry and are redefining what health care is (and isn’t).

This creates an opportunity for the Nashville Health Care Council to reinforce its strategic mission goals of education, networking and promoting Nashville as the health care industry capital. In the U.K., for example, many of the NHS’ challenges center on administrative capacities and how to create economies of scale, efficiencies and increased productivity. This ability to scale is one of the hallmarks of Nashville’s health care industry, which took root with the creation of HCA, an experiment to transform hospitals from a cottage industry to a streamlined industry, and grew to impact other sectors of health care.

Conversely, the NHS’ advancements in clinical quality – the U.K. is home to some of the best medical schools, teaching hospitals and research centers in the world – value and access present a learning opportunity for leaders from Nashville to address the U.S.’ health system shortfalls.

 

Successes From the Trip

Relationships forged on the trip are already in action and producing results. For example, leaders from NHS Improvement and NHS Digital have exchanged information around key initiatives, including quality and interoperability. An insurance executive is considering a physician-led pilot program to reduce ER visits based on learnings from the trip. And, several companies from the U.K. are pursuing meetings with attendees or planning executive visits to Nashville.

 

A Look Into the Future: Three Case Studies

Looking ahead, the need for cost-effective solutions to deliver increased access to health care services is driving the future of health care delivery in the U.K. (and around the world for that matter). Several interesting examples we learned of in London include:

 

Stephen Dorell, Chair, NHS Confederation

Virgin Care

Driven by the experience of seeing his mother, a general practitioner in the NHS, as a patient, Virgin Care CEO Bart Johnson “saw room for improvement and wanted to be a disruptive innovator.”

Virgin Care now has 400 contracts with the NHS for a broad range of health services, including primary care, immediate care, community services, social care services, prison health care, and children and young people’s health, and social care services.  Five years into its inception, the company has treated more than 5 million patients across the U.K.

Most of Virgin Care’s business is outside of London. Johnson’s company discovered that, because many of these services weren’t widely available in those areas, patients weren’t getting the kind of care they needed. And because there were “loads of different technology systems” being used, there was very low productivity among the workforce.

Shaped by the belief that “the difference between lousy care and great care is the workforce, not the technology,” his company has worked hard learn from its employees about what they need and then created the tools and resources they required to be successful.

Simple investments, such as mobile apps for nurses and an integrated electronic health record, have made a seismic difference in the company’s ability to care for more patients and increase productivity.

 

Healthcare at Home

Created more than 25 years ago as a medication management and delivery company, Healthcare at Home now provides home health care for patients in transition from hospital to home, plus medication management, chronic disease management and acute care. It works with every hospital trust in the country, sees one in 500 patients in the U.K. and has cared for more than 4 million patients.

Backed by an impressive set of statistics and outcomes, the company has proved it saves money and increases capacity for the NHS because it frees up hospital beds and gets patients the care they need.  Its patient support network ensures correct medicine use, convenience and choice of care, and prevents readmissions. Most of the company’s contracts are with the NHS, but private-pay patients are increasing.

“The NHS is fantastic, but it can’t do everything,” said CEO Natalie Douglas.

Douglas says there’s a mentality shift underway in the U.K. People are starting to realize the system, while successful to an extent, can’t meet all of their needs and that there’s a role for personal responsibility. She believes this moment creates an opportunity to do things differently and explore new models of care.

While she has witnessed strides and advancements in home care throughout her career, she says there’s a lot of work to be done with NHS hospitals given the fragmentation of the health system and the fact that most of them don’t see a place for home health in the patient journey.

Douglas believes innovation requires looking inward at your own operations first and being open and honest. She adds that the company spends a lot of time looking at available technology, as well as the application of it.

 

Babylon Health

Created by British-Iranian refugee Ali Parsa, Babylon Health wants to “democratize access to health care” and put an accessible and affordable health service in the hands of every person on Earth.

Through an app that costs £5 per month, Babylon uses artificial intelligence to diagnose patients and to determine whether they should see a doctor, go to a pharmacy or stay home. It’s now available to about 1.2 million Londoners and is currently doing a trial with NHS.

“Health care is on the verge of how Apple made music universal,” said CEO Ali Parsa.

Leveraging big data, Babylon can provide 80 percent of primary care diagnoses. The company says its app is 17 percent more accurate than a nurse and 14 percent more accurate than a doctor.

“Think about how much data your phone contains compared to what a doctor will get out of a 10-minute consultation.”

Data acquisition is the only limit, he says.

Babylon is expanding around the globe, building new product offerings, such as an avatar that incorporates genomics, and increased diagnostic capabilities.

Shaped by his childhood in Iran, Parsa estimates 50 percent of the world has no access to health care and that people’s health care needs have very little to do with hospitals.

He asks us to ponder the following: “What if we could put a doctor in everyone’s pocket?”