Mark Claster, Partner of Carl Marks Advisors, shares some of his thoughts on how healthcare services will continue to change, and areas that will see change. Mr. Claster is the chairman of the Board of Trustees of Northwell Health (previously known as the North Shore-LIJ Health System). He also serves on the executive committee of Lenox Hill Hospital and Staten Island University Hospital, among other responsibilities.
Q: Has anything surprised you about the rise in nontraditional healthcare service providers – and the shift toward providing more specialized care outside the hospital?
Years ago, when the transition of providing care outside the four walls of the hospital got underway, we thought the rise in ambulatory services and nontraditional service providers would take patients away, leaving hospitals over-bedded. We were contemplating the best ways to repurpose hospitals and the extra space we were expecting them to have.
Instead, in many cases we have seen the exact opposite. Because patients are more apt to stop in a nearby urgent care clinic or other ambulatory site instead of making a trip to the emergency room, more people are receiving care than in the past when hospitals were the only treatment option. These service facilities are actually screening and funneling more patients to hospitals.
Q: Which subsectors within healthcare services do you expect will experience the most growth in the next few years?
A: As technology advances to enhance the connectivity between doctors and patients, we will continue to see innovation and an improvement in the quality of care that can be delivered remotely. Patients are more educated about in-home and out-patient treatment options and more and more partnerships with trusted retailers are being forged – like the CVS Minute Clinic. I expect to see growth within subsectors that further enable the convenience and accessibility of care: telemedicine, electronic health records, digital health and home health services in particular.
Q: Much has been written about the future of hospitals. Do you have any predictions?
A: Hospitals will always be the place where the most acutely ill patients will go. But, because the ratio of doctors and nurses to patients is the highest (versus a clinic or other nontraditional out-patient service provider), hospitals will also remain the most expensive option for patients.
Hospitals are not going anywhere. However, they will need to continue to innovate and incorporate new technology in order to keep costs down and combat margin pressures. The challenge will continue to be finding new revenue sources and increasing efficiencies to stay competitive.
Q: What excites you about the future of healthcare?
A: As consumers, we should all be excited to see an increase in the services available outside of the hospital. Having more options available to us at home, and at our fingertips, will make treatment more convenient and affordable, which can in turn lead to longer, healthier lives. I look forward to continued innovations that will enable quicker treatment and advanced treatment capabilities and following the next crop of new businesses and expansions happening in the marketplace. Who knows, Baby Boomers might be the first generation of patients to have microchips implanted under the skin containing medical information that can enable any doctor to quickly and easily treat any person.