Its been an interesting year in the healthcare industry, in part due to the changing landscape of healthcare legislation, employer insurance policies and an ageing demographic of baby boomers. Below we present what we believe to be the biggest issues facing the healthcare system.
Healthcare insurance exchanges: The development of healthcare insurance exchanges, recently rebranded as "marketplaces" by the Obama administration, is moving more slowly than expected. However, this slower pace in becoming operational may be good news for providers, as the health care exchanges will likely pay providers at lower rates for their services. These exchanges are where consumers can “shop and compare” insurance plans before deciding on which one best suits their needs.
Increased technological integration: Patients are increasingly choosing providers who leverage technology in delivery of care. Whether its using social media to raise awareness for programs and fundraising or introducing new programs to improve quality, providers will benefit from using technologies that drive results. More and more organizations and their patients are going mobile so programs that enable data sharing between patients and their physicians while on the go are crucial.
Shifting demographics: Longer life spans, increased incidence of chronic conditions, and obesity coupled with an increase in the number of baby boomers entering retirement age are driving a boost in patient volume. There is a need for comprehensive patient care management as well as a replacement for the outgoing senior executives and physicians, including an increase in the supply of nursing assistants.
High deductible health plans: HDHPs - also known as “consumer-directed health plans” - have lower premiums than traditional health plans. The trade-off is that these plans also have a higher deductible - a fixed dollar amount you must pay out-of-pocket before your plan begins covering your care. The shifting focus to high-deductible insurance plans by private employers is likely to seriously impact healthcare provider margins. As implementation of the Patient Protection and Accountable Care Act begins, it is likely that many employers will begin to move toward HDHPs to keep their insurance costs reasonable. HDHPs are likely to impact the healthcare industry by slowing consumer use of healthcare resources.