Friday, May 14, 2010

Twelve Global Megatrends That Will Revolutionize Healthcare (Part 2)

Yesterday I presented the first 6 megatrends identified by the Harvard Business Review that will have a dramatic impact on healthcare. Today I want to finish the list. It should be noted that many of these trends have been underway for some time but in some cases have gone unnoticed.

7) Evidence based medicine. Efforts in this area have been underway for years. Many studies have identified clinical variations by provider and by areas of the country that are not adequately explained. As hospitals focus on becoming high value providers, there will be much more attention to standardized clinical pathways and addressing deviations.

8) Non MD's providing care. The new healthcare reform legislation is strongly supporting models like the medical home which change the role of the primary care physician and the specialist. The specialists are being de-emphasized with the primary care physician doing more of their role while overseeing a larger group of patients. The actual interaction with these patients will be done by physician extenders.

9) Payer's influence over treatment decisions. The old model of making treatment decisions strictly on a medical basis regardless of cost are gone. Cost of care is being factored in both directly by payers refusing to cover certain treatments and indirectly by patients opting not to pursue treatment if their out of pocket costs are too high.

10) The growing role of philanthropy. With cuts in reimbursement coming from all payers and expenses continuing to escalate, hospitals need to become increasingly resourceful. Cutting costs and growing business will carry you only so far. Many hospitals rely on the community support they can obtain from individuals and corporate sponsors. With the current economy, the source of income is also being threatened.

11) Prevention is the next big business opportunity. Prevention has always been supported as a great idea that no one wants to pay for. We realize the economic benefit down the road of an investment in prevention today but there were no sources to pay for it until the new healthcare reform legislation. Now we will see numerous entrepreneurs become socially conscientious to promote better health.

12) Medical tourism. This is also nothing new but may be more prevalent with changes occurring in health care delivery and reimbursement. Patients with money will go to where they can receive the best care possible.

These trends, some new, most not so new, are impacting our healthcare system as we enter a paradigm shift under the new reform legislation. I am reminded of the Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times".

More on this later.

Mark Brodeur

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