APB is a Global Speaker, Celebrity & Entertainment Agency
Joe  Flower

Joe Flower

Healthcare Futurist

Joe Flower

Healthcare Futurist


Joe Flower thinks differently and has always maintained his independence as an analyst and visionary of healthcare. He recognized long ago that healthcare could not possibly make sense until seen as a system-as-a-whole. He has devoted his long career to understanding the dynamics of this complex adaptive system, observing the multi-level interactions of deep, underlying trends in technology, demographics, and economics that have driven the evolution (or devolution) of the healthcare that we know today.

Flower has interviewed many in and outside of healthcare who have driven conceptual and technological innovation, and has learned from their mistakes. It’s all brought him to a vision of a future healthcare that is far better, far more available, and far less expensive than today’s, a future that is achievable and, in some places, is being achieved.

Flower is the author of thousands of articles over the last 37 years on healthcare, a contributing editor at TheHealthcareBlog.com, a featured columnist for The American Hospital Association’s H&HN (Hospitals & Health Networks) Daily, and a member of the AHA’s speaking faculty. His most recent two books explore the practical possibility of a better healthcare system that costs half as much, and the trends and tools that may be getting us there: Healthcare Beyond Reform (2012) and How To Get What We Pay For: A Handbook for Healthcare Revolutionaries (2015).

How To Get What We Pay For: A Handbook for Healthcare Revolutionaries reveals:

  • The Big Picture – how we got to this historic moment, what really makes healthcare so expensive
  • The lessons being learned by fast movers on the front lines of change
  • The framework for change, which is the 7 Levers of Change and the action steps.

Flower’s hundreds of speaking and consulting clients have included a wide array of organizations from the U.N.’s World Health Organization, the U.S. Defense Department, and the Centers for Disease Control, to governments around the world, most U.S. state and Canadian provincial hospital associations, many Fortune 500 companies, the giants of the health insurance industry, major medical systems such as Kaiser, Cleveland Clinic, and Johns Hopkins, to small community hospitals and associations of free clinics.

When he’s not traveling or at the computer keyboard, he plays guitar, hosts the Writer’s Conference on The Well, or reads history and economics until his eyes cross.

Speaker Videos

The Future of Healthcare

Personal Introduction

Medicare for All for Less

Healthcare: What is to Come

Joe Flower on His New Book

Speech Topics

The Big National Conversation About Healthcare: What's Missing?

Healthcare is the biggest topic ever, #1 on voter's minds, everyone has a plan. It's a failed system, how do we change it, make it cheaper, make it work for everyone?

The problem? Healthcare is not only insanely expensive, it's insanely complex—so it's easy to mask what makes it so expensive and what we can do about it. In any system, over-priced healthcare will be restricted, rationed, out of reach for many.

If we're going to change healthcare, we have to know how it really works. We certainly don't get deep insight or complex awareness from the media opinion spouters and policy posers on our screens, or in the candidates' various plans and pronouncements.

So let me explain. Seriously, this has been my entire career for 40 years: understanding the arcane, one-of-a-kind economics and politics of healthcare as a system, and conveying that knowledge in terms that anyone can understand.

In one session I will break down the complexities: the feedback loops, the hidden incentives, the political maneuverings, and the vast changes and opportunities coming. Your audience will get it in ways they never did before.

Healthcare Apocalypse? Looking Five Years Ahead

The political arena is a roar with multiple drastic plans to change healthcare dramatically—at the very moment that the vast system is both consolidating and deconstructing, facing new disruptive entrants, shifting from insured fee-for-service to alternatives, and being transformed by new technologies.

It's complicated and it's scary. What will happen to your organization and your career? What should we do now when we don't know what's happening? Five years out, is it smoking wreckage to the horizon?

We can do better at seeing our way forward. I'll break down the big trends happening now, then cross them with four political scenarios: three different possibilities of big reform, plus the less-discussed but definite path that the current administration is already taking in its attempts to bring the cost of healthcare down.

In one intense session of sober, realistic futurism, you will get a better sense of what healthcare might look like in five years, what your organization's role in it could be, and what paths you personally should be considering right now.

Healthcare 2027: The Big Reveal

Something powerful is forming beyond the fog, haze, and chaos of 2018, an ecology of futures that grow from the interaction of new technologies, new pathways of care, and new economics. Flower calls these The Table of Elements of Healthcare. These deep disruptive trends will mix and re-combine to shape healthcare in ways that are more powerful and fundamental than today’s political shifts. Picture: Blockchain and artificial intelligence meet reference pricing, personal medicine and population health. And there are others, some you may be innovating with, others you may not have considered: the platforming of the business model, new patient-centered tech, DIY healthcare and the quantified self, mobile tech linked up into 24/7 distributed care, medical automation and Big Data analytics, population health management, and seamless coordination, among others.

What will it look like when these disruptive elements – the new systems and new tech – recombine and actually work? What will the Next Healthcare look like, day to day, for clinicians, healthcare leaders, patients, parents, employers? In this talk, you’ll take the imaginative journey and learn a framework for choosing the elements that will get you where you want to go.

How Not to Lose Your Mind in the Nitty Gritty Present

We’re back in the cage fight. We’ve been struggling with healthcare reform and payment reform for 8 years now — and now they’re going to rip it all up and replace it with … something. The process is likely to be a lot more protracted and chaotic than anyone hopes for. And we won’t know how it really works out until well after the law is in place. We’re talking years. In the meantime, what was built under the Affordable Care Act, the sources of big chunks of our healthcare income, may or may not survive the disruption.

You must be asking:

  • How do you and your organization economically and emotionally survive this period with a minimum of hair-tearing and -pulling?
  • What are the best ways to secure your survivability until it all shakes out?
  • Which aspects of our current reality are likely to change the least?

Here’s the kicker: The expectation of constrained resources, the chaos and uncertainty of getting to them, and the increased unwillingness of private payers to be cost-shifted into the cash cow role, will lead to a paradoxical result: much more rapid innovation in both business models and the technology that supports them as the industry reshapes to meet a radically different future. Hold onto your hats, folks.

In this talk, Joe Flower brings current events and trends to bear on your immediate situation, and offers a framework for navigating through it. He combines the art of the long view with up-to-the-moment insights into the unfolding political realities and their second- and third-order consequences.

Global Healthcare: Facts & Fictions

If you are selling into healthcare internationally, or planning new initiatives in your country, you may be scratching your head. What’s the strategy now?

How will the possibility of increasing protectionism and political shifts in major healthcare markets like the U.S. affect the international healthcare market? How will they affect your projects?

No one can predict the specifics now, but there are rules of thumb, trends to watch, and sources to trust.

Drawing on 35 years of experience in healthcare, and work with many national and local governments and vendors around the world, Flower will work with your organization to devise a carefully customized talk integrating what he knows with what you know so that you’ll come away with new energy, a greater clarity, an actionable way forward.

Your Organization at the Live Edge

It’s all happening so fast.

Sometimes events move so quickly that a talk you commissioned months before is not as satisfying as this up-to-the-moment, spontaneous conversation. Drawing on a deep knowledge of history and 35-years of experience in healthcare, Joe Flower brings thought-provoking analysis and new perspectives to your unique situation, addressing your unique concerns.

As Flower reframes issues and answers your questions, sharing the most recent information available, what you hear addresses what you most care about right now. This kind of talk has been among his most popular, partly because it’s always fresh, and allows him to delve deep where called for, and because it draws on the strengths of your group, engaging them at the live edge, where they are most curious and growing.

Flower can do a short presentation or bring seed questions to get things started, based on your requests. You and he can request questions ahead of time or screen questions as you go. This is a highly customizable talk.

Will New Tech Alone Fix Healthcare?

We hear it in blog after news article after press release: This changes everything! Introducing the new technology will make healthcare so much more efficient that healthcare will become cheaper, more available, and better. All by itself!

Just as often, Joe Flower sees broad discussions of the future of healthcare that are all about the technology and ignore the economics of this vast system. Can the same old models be made to work by means of new, more efficient technology?

In this talk Flower explores the two main scenarios, Fee-for-service + tech v. business model innovation + tech. Can one or both accomplish the same goals of reducing costs, improving care, and making care affordable and accessible for all? Let’s think this through and come out with a clear, waking strategy.