This post is the first of two that excerpts the article, “10 Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2019” by Robin Rose, MBA VP, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream.
The healthcare industry as we have known it is disappearing. A multitude of factors such as ever-increasing prices, growing numbers of seniors, serious provider shortages, and a lack of affordability, even for many with good insurance, are driving change. New technologies are slowly infiltrating the industry. Disrupters like Amazon are seeing opportunity amidst the turbulence, and usage and practice patterns are changing dramatically as the industry attempts to move from fee-for-service to value-based care. When we look back in 10 years, healthcare practice and delivery may be unrecognizable from what we experience today. The following trends are driving this transformation.
The long-standing dysfunction in today’s healthcare industry has made it susceptible for disruption from outside sources who are not tied to the current way of doing things. One good example of this is Amazon’s recent announcement of expansion into the healthcare sector. In 2018 Amazon became significantly more aggressive in their healthcare plans with the formation of an independent healthcare company, the appointment of nationally known surgeon and author Atul Gawande as CEO of that company, and the purchase of the online pharmacy company PillPack.
U.S. healthcare costs continue to rise, averaging more than $10,000 a year per person in 2016. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF), premiums for family plans increased 5% in 2018 to an average of $19,616, while individual premiums increased 3% to $6,896.
A recent poll by the University of Chicago and West Health Institute found that Americans fear the cost of their healthcare more than they do the illness. The study found that 33 percent of those surveyed were “extremely afraid” or “very afraid” of getting seriously ill. In contrast, about 40 percent said paying for healthcare is more frightening than the illness itself. Unfortunately, costs are so high many neglect needed care despite having good health insurance.
Things such as hotter temperatures, poorer air quality, mass casualty shootings, and an increased number of extreme weather events have healthcare organizations scrambling to adjust to a “new normal.” Events over the past several years have taught us that we may not be as prepared as we should be, and public health officials are calling for new measures to help people stay healthy.
There is a wave of artificial intelligence (AI) applications set to crash onto our healthcare shores. Health AI and machine learning companies have already raised billions of dollars in deals and are on track to continue expanding into healthcare. A recent study by Accenture (2017) concluded that the 10 most promising AI applications for healthcare could create up to $150 billion in annual savings for U.S. healthcare by 2026.
While the move to value-based care has been a top priority in recent years, governmental uncertainty and a slowing of the bundled payment initiative have made this a lower priority as healthcare executives look to 2019. Instead, a greater focus on population health management is emerging.