HFS adds more beans to fuel healthcare research - meet Rohan Kulkarni

May 09, 2021 | Phil FershtRohan Kulkarni

Rohan Kulkarni is Research Vice President, Healthcare, at HFS

We're firmly on our path to view the world through industry lenses at HFS research, as we see value chains across sectors merge, and the needs to be hyper-connected changing before our eyes - with suppliers, customers, partners, governments, etc grouping into new value ecosystems as the world finds its feet post-pandemic.

Who could have predicted the reinvention and emergence of food services as a whole new industry, such as the complete digitization of banking and retail, the shift in insurance to becoming a sales/marketing-driven industry, and the reemergence of the travel industry in this pandemic and post-pandemic eta?  But perhaps there have been no more fundamental changes to an industry value chain than what has transpired - and continues to evolve - in healthcare.  The need for rapid, quality patient data, economic data, cloud migration, and supply-chain reinvention has never been so critical to driving government, enterprise, and individual decision-making in the world of health, life sciences, and pharmaceutical production.  

Without further ado, let's delve into the views, ideas, and plans being driven by our latest analyst addition, Rohan Kulkarni, fresh from his accolades as a master of perfect pints...

Phil Fersht, Founder, CEO and Chief Analyst, HFS.  Before we get to all the work stuff, Rohan, can you share a little bit about yourself….your background, what gets you up in the morning?

Rohan Kulkarni, Research VP Healthcare, HFS.  The opportunity to participate in the healthcare ecosystem is personal to me. Recognizing that US healthcare is sub-optimal across the key dimensions of cost, health outcomes, and experiences will impact me and most of us in the most personal ways as we grow older requires us to lean in and help make it better. I want to influence drivers that could make the care construct better in some meaningful manner.

I have been in the industry, getting on a decade and a half, leading strategy at multiple fortune 500 companies, being a product management executive & CIO at 2 different health plans while having consulted across the ecosystem. These opportunities have highlighted that the health & healthcare industry is unique in its ability to only get better in a participatory fashion. It's not just a doctor and patient equation, but rather needs all of us to do our part to stay healthy, be good patients when sick and when we get better, to stay that way. Its ongoing work for all of us all the time.

Phil - You've had a diverse career spanning several roles aligned to the healthcare industry... can you share some of your experiences over the years... what would you do all over again, and what would you definitely avoid?

Rohan - Yes, Phil, I have been lucky to traverse this path through the healthcare ecosystem as a journeyman. I am amazed at the paradoxes in the industry; on one end, the amount of money that is in the system is mind-boggling and sufficient to solve all our healthcare challenges with plenty leftover, yet on the other hand, it represents the only industrialized nation without universal health insurance. This pandemic has exposed the level of empathy the industry has, particularly the nurses and doctors whose altruism knows no bounds, yet our society today is challenged with misinformation and trust impacting care & its delivery. My point is that the healthcare industry is meant to solve a polymathic problem and we are still scratching the surface in so many ways despite all the advances.

As I indicated earlier, I have been privileged to journey through the ecosystem, meeting some wonderful people, accomplishing things that made me proud, contributing to helping reduce costs & optimize resources, and most importantly finding platforms to drive awareness to draw in more people to participate in the improvement of the ecosystem.

Phil - How critical is the role of services and technology in the healthcare industry during this time - has it changed significantly?

Rohan - I think technology and its enablement through services as we know it has been a cornerstone of healthcare’s evolution for the better part of 2 decades. As the population grows, particularly the seniors, and the prevalence of chronic conditions worsens without any evidence to suggest a radical change in behaviors, I would say that the role of technology and services in healthcare is critical, perhaps only next to what clinicians can do.

Yes, I think it has changed significantly from how data is captured and analyzed and used in diagnosis and care protocols, how it can keep patients connected to clinicians for real-time interventions, how fast we can develop vaccines, and much more. The speed from identification to solution to post solution maintenance, in my view, has been the hallmark of the last decades' extreme technology focus on healthcare.

Phil - What role do you see analysts playing as we emerge from this pandemic? Same old game, or is something new brewing? How do you intend to cover the healthcare sector?

Rohan - Health & healthcare’s success, in my view, is defined by the quality of life attributes, which will require democratization of the ecosystem and the broad participation of everyone. A key focus of that is driving awareness and engagement to help people, communities, enterprises, and governments appreciate different perspectives. To be able to bring various stakeholders together, drive robust debates and influence good sustainable solutions. I think this next chapter for analysts will differentiate between the good ones who will challenge the status quo and raise the bar, collaborate and influence industry solutions and those that will be critics.

My approach is going to include a few dimensions;

  • coverage expansion to include the entire ecosystem beyond the health plans and life science that we currently cover to healthcare providers;
  • a focus on digital health through the intersection of Healthcare & Triple-A Trifecta change agents – AI, automation, and smart analytics as well as mobility and virtualization
  • Healthcare is a polymathic problem and will require a polymathic solution; as such, I will cover healthcare’s intersections with climate change, societal changes, the food we eat, the impact of the way we work (e.g., OneOffice), and more that impact the social determinants of health.

While I do have faith in my fellow humans, I do suspect that at some point here shortly, the pandemic will be history, albeit a painful one for many. It will likely get people to go back to their old habits with perhaps a few non-material changes to their lives. As such, it is critical to driving awareness in more meaningful, personal, and even in your face ways so that together we can chart a better path forward.

Phil - What do you think we'll be talking about in healthcare when we gradually revert to a world beyond our screens?  Will we get a resurgence of energy and excitement, or will we crawl out of our caves blinded by the sunlight?

Rohan - I think that depends on where in the world you are. In the US, we were already down the path of being virtual in healthcare, and the pandemic certainly accelerated it. I suspect that momentum will continue where physical interventions are not necessary, such as primary care, nonsurgical specialist visits, etc. I believe after the initial surge of visits to the dentist, ophthalmologist, gynecologist, etc., human behavior will likely reverse to the mean, to return to most pre-pandemic behaviors. Now given the fact that we are unlikely to be at herd immunity any time soon and will likely need a booster vaccine come fall, I think a true post-pandemic scenario is still evolving.

Phil - Thanks for sharing your plans with us, Rohan. Excited to learn more from you as you get bedded in with us!

Posted in: Digital OneOfficeGovernance Practices and ToolsHealthcare

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