Three healthcare trends to consider for 2017

By Dodge Communications (not verified) on December 14th, 2016

Where has the time gone? Each year seems to pass more quickly than the last and 2016 was no different. This year brought many interesting changes to healthcare including some anticipated changes with the new President-Elect. Despite the changes, the industry has continued to flourish and more dynamic technologies seem to be introduced each day.

2016 also brought new and interesting trends which caught the attention of companies, publications and consumers alike. While many trends from 2016 will continue, what should organizations look out for in the new year? What might influence buying decisions, reshape existing strategies or bring new technologies/features to the market?

To guide your organization’s journey into 2017, we’ve identified the following three trends to be considered:

1. Healthcare prices and payment structures

For years, healthcare costs and the shift to value-based care has been at the forefront of conversation, and 2017 is expected to be no different. In 2016, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) met its goal of tying 20 percent of payments for traditional Medicare benefits to value-based payment models. From 2017 to 2020, HHS plans to increase that to 50 percent! A large jump like that will require healthcare organizations to find the right solutions to ensure success.

For consumers, 2017 is expected to be a year of equilibrium for medical costs. While the growth rate from 2016 will remain the same (6.5 percent), healthcare costs are still expected to outpace general economic inflation. Healthcare organizations, employers, insurers and pharma companies looking to keep up must adjust their strategies accordingly to offer consumer-friendly services, all while decreasing costs.

2. Regulations

If you haven’t heard about it already, Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) is coming and is expected to revamp healthcare, at least as it relates to Medicare payments. At the highest level, MACRA merges three existing quality reporting programs (Physician Quality Reporting System (PQRS), Value-based Payment Modifier (VBM) and Meaningful Use (MU)), and adds in a performance category all under a single system, Merit-based Incentive Payment (MIPS). Luckily for organizations, there is more than one route to take for MACRA so do your research to determine what is best for your physicians and your bottom line!

Also expected to cause waves in healthcare is the replacement of President Barack Obama with President-Elect Donald Trump. While unclear what exactly will change, election promises included the following:

  • Repeal of the Affordable Care Act
  • “Block-grant” funding for Medicaid
  • Reduction of pharmaceutical costs

3. Patient engagement (a continuation from years past)

As healthcare costs continue to hit patient pockets directly, the consumerization of healthcare (including patient engagement) will continue. According to CDW Healthcare, 57% of patients say they have become more engaged with their healthcare in the past two years. This number is expected to rise throughout 2017 with patients demanding more from their providers. Access and availability will no longer be a nice to have, it will be a must have to ensure patients remain loyal and engaged.

Buckle your seatbelts, 2017 is going to be a wild ride! What is your organization doing to prepare for 2017? Has your organization identified additional trends to consider?

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