This week, we finished off what was, in many aspects, the best year in Cerner’s history with our Q4 2015 earnings call. In one respect, we began twice as many new client relationships in 2015 as we had in any other year in our history. The number of clients we work with is important for several reasons, not the least of which because our efforts to shape the future of health care accelerate with each provider who understands, agrees with and helps drive Cerner’s vision forward.
Cerner also experienced 30 percent growth in our population health business – a strong indicator that today’s most innovative health care leaders clearly see what’s on the horizon and are looking for strategic partners, like Cerner, to help them navigate the change that’s coming quickly, regardless of what EHR platform they may be using today.
An uptick in population health management platform adoption is one of five marketplace observations I made during the call:
The first is that health systems are increasingly being asked to live in two worlds – A future state driven by reimbursement models aligned to risk and quality outcomes and a current state where FFS is still the predominant model. To bridge the gap between the present and the future, health systems need to solve the same problem – How to effectively manage and make disparate data meaningful and drive appropriate action from it. Solving current state problems such as proactively identifying reimbursement opportunities, driving efficiency across venue specific workflows, and true visibility into the quality of care being delivered are critical to enable health systems to outperform their peers in an increasingly competitive healthcare market. To make the pivot, health systems will compete by proactively identifying populations at risk, redefining clinical engagement to pre-empt problems, and enabling the person to be a more active member of the care team. We believe clients are looking for a platform to help bridge these worlds: compete more effectively on quality and efficiency in today’s environment and more actively engage and manage populations in the future state, and Cerner’s HealtheIntent population health management platform is a perfect fit for satisfying these needs.
Second, the EHR replacement market remains very active. While regulatory pressures and solutions being sunset by competitors continue to drive opportunities, we are also seeing more purchasing behavior driven by value and vision, which is positive for Cerner. Almost all EHR replacements also represent a revenue cycle opportunity as providers prefer integrated clinical, ambulatory and revenue cycle systems.
Third, consolidation in the hospital market has remained active and this is creating opportunities for Cerner. In the past three years, Cerner clients accounted for nearly 50 percent of hospital buying activity, creating an opportunity for more than 100 new footprints. Consolidation is not isolated to the provider market, with payers and HCIT suppliers also actively merging in attempt to attain scale to compete in the evolving health care market.
Fourth, we believe the EHR will evolve from a transactional system to an intelligent, activity-based system that will enable faster adoption of best practices, reduced variance, personalized care, improved outcomes, and the ability to identify unit costs, which will be critical as reimbursement shifts to outcomes-based and bundled payments. This is consistent with the direction Cerner has been headed and has been a focus of our efforts with Intermountain Healthcare.
Finally, we believe openness and interoperability continue to become increasingly important. This benefits Cerner because of our long-time commitment to interoperability and open systems. This commitment was recently advanced by our launch of the Cerner Open Developer Experience, which is an open site designed to enhance collaboration with third-party and client developers with SMART® on FHIR® applications. We believe this open platform has the potential to unlock future cutting-edge solutions that could benefit not only our entire client base, but the industry.
It’s clear this is an exciting time for the industry. We believe more will change in the next five years than the last several decades, and together with our clients, Cerner is well positioned to deliver on the promise of our mission to systemically improve health care delivery and the health of communities.