Leaders in the healthcare industry anticipate that 2018 will be a year of significant change. According to research by B.E. Smith, healthcare providers will spend the next year focusing on collaboration, efficiency, productivity, and clinical initiatives in patient care. There are 7 trends that are likely to have a big impact on the industry during the upcoming year.
1. Government Regulation Remains a Top Concern
Uncertainty regarding the future of the Affordable Care Act and other healthcare regulations continues into 2018. Survey respondents said that unknown changes to laws can have a big effect on workflow, bottom line, and even employee morale. Financial pressures were the only factor that came close to this concern, but costs and regulations are integrally related. As government and private insurance payers look for more ways to reduce their expenses, providers will need to do the same.
2. Value-Based Care Getting Strategic Focus
Hospitals are finding that more and more of their revenue is coming from non-acute care. As outpatient and remote medicine sectors grow, providers are going to look for new ways to improve outcomes in these areas. Population health management, which is a method for gathering and disseminating data about patient care through technology, will be an essential part of this process. The old model of simply generating revenue through increased volume of services won't work in a world where patients are more informed about their treatment and provider options. Improving patient experience will become more of a top priority.
3. States Taking Control of Pricing Transparency
While the recent tax bill made significant changes to the Affordable Care Act, healthcare reform in general doesn't seem to be going anywhere within the federal government. States recognize that there's a need to act, so many are starting to introduce legislation that will attempt to lower prescription costs and make healthcare expenses more transparent. New Jersey lawmakers are seeking more transparency in medical billing while a Colorado representative pushes a law that would use the free market to force prices down.
4. Filling Executive Leadership Gaps
Turnover at executive positions in the healthcare industry were quite high in 2017, and industry experts expect the trend to continue in 2018. When top-level individuals leave a hospital or other provider, a wide range of things are affected, including strategic planning, staff engagement, and even overall financial performance. In order to combat this challenge, providers will need to provide competitive incentives for candidates with the right qualifications.
5. Focus on Strategy and Vision in Leadership
As companies look to fill gaps in their executive leadership, finding candidates who have a clear, focused vision for the healthcare industry will be a top priority. Big changes are likely to take place in the coming year and beyond, and leaders will need to adapt their organizations to the changing market if they're going to be successful. Location, employee culture, and compensation will be important factors in attracting these types of candidates.
6. Tackling the Opioid Crisis
The leading cause of death for adults under the age of 50 in the United States is now opioid overdose. In the battle to reduce this problem, the healthcare industry will need to play an essential role. Payers, pharmaceutical companies, and providers will all need to make an effort to help patients manage pain in safer ways. Regulations designed to tackle the crisis in the coming year may bring big changes to the prescription drug system in many states.
7. Artificial Intelligence Is Coming
As the Internet of Things plays a greater role in healthcare going forward, so will artificial intelligence. AI is likely to play multiple roles in the healthcare system. It can improve efficiency in administration and bureaucracy while at the same time improving care for patients by gathering and analyzing patient data from thousands of healthcare organizations. This will give doctors and nurses more time to provide personal care for their patients.