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The Way Ahead: What to Expect in the US Healthcare Industry

Nov 13, 2018

US Healthcare Industry Overview

Every presidential election and change of guards come with several changes in policies in the US healthcare industry. For instance, in 2008 when President Obama was sworn into office, it led to the establishment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also popularly known as Obamacare. At that time, the cost curve was swinging uncontrollably in the US healthcare industry, and to bend this the lawmakers passed a highly comprehensive legislative change in the US healthcare industry which helped expand the insurance coverage for 20 million Americans through Medicaid expansion. It also resulted in the establishment of health information exchanges. Since then, the opportunities in the US healthcare industry has flourished and changed course toward a new model of care delivery and payment. There were several major changes in the US healthcare trends since President Trump came into power. Under the Obama administration, consumers could buy short-term policies—that did not have to comply with the Affordable Care Act standards. This was done as a stopgap measure until they found longer-lasting insurance. In August 2018, the Trump Administration issued a final rule, allowing agencies to expand the availability of short-term health insurance policies beyond the previously three-month limit to three years. The Trump administration expects these plans to provide lesser-expensive health care at a much lower price.

Currently, The US healthcare industry is seeing a record-breaking level of acquisition activity as providers race to capitalize on innovation and deliver a better consumer experience.  But rapid consolidation raises serious concerns around the IT systems that form the backbone of patient care. As traditional healthcare systems continue to merge in order to compete, a major concern for providers is that they might become vulnerable to competition from digital health companies who can deliver care and treatment directly to patients in a more efficient manner. Furthermore, tech giants including Apple, Amazon, and Google are gradually making entry into the US healthcare industry, traditional healthcare systems, and hospitals face increasing pressure in order to remain competitive.

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US Healthcare Industry Trends

2018 has been a landmark year as far as the US healthcare industry is concerned. Several new innovations in IT, medical devices, data analytics, and much more have made their mark in the past decade. Furthermore, with quality, outcomes, and value being the new buzzwords for the healthcare industry in the 21st century, the stakeholders in the US and around the globe are on the hunt for innovative and cost-effective ways to deliver patient-centered, technology-enabled healthcare solutions. We have identified some of the key US healthcare industry trends to watch out for in the years to come.

Changing Scenario of Rural Healthcare

Several patients in the United States receive care from smaller rural institutions. However, with government programs in constant danger of financial cost-saving spending cuts, rural US healthcare industry providers are in crisis. It is believed that currently, one in three rural hospitals are in financial risk. Furthermore, the decreasing number of physicians, the growth of high-deductible health plans (HDHPs), a lack of choices of private exchanges, and the opioid epidemic are adding to the problems of rural healthcare industry players. However, rural healthcare industry providers will continue to turn to leverage new technology as they experience population loss. Technologies, such as telehealth and telemedicine, and consumer health wearables or smartphones, can enable rural-based care systems to consolidate specialty care services and referrals as a means to survive and grow in the market.

Rise of Consumerism in Healthcare

As healthcare costs continue to rise, consumers have become more engaged in making certain they are getting the best value for their money. One of the key US healthcare industry trends to look forward to is that consumers in the United States now expect transparency and choice in their healthcare experience. So, the success of the US healthcare industry providers will now depend on their ability to meet consumers’ needs and expectations. These providers will be the primary source of education, information, and the tools that patients need to take ownership of their health. Millennials are expected to influence the future of healthcare in new ways. This is due to their increased use of online resources and telehealth continues to grow.

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare

US healthcare providers are increasingly considering the feasibility of adopting advanced innovations such as artificial intelligence into their day to day operations. This technology would prove to be highly useful in reducing bureaucracy and administrative duties that can take time away from personalized care. Top healthcare providers in the United States feel that AI would make administrative tasks a lot quicker, such as screening drug candidates, streamlining finance processes, and adverse event reporting.

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Real World Data and Policy Changes

Changes at the FDA will prompt medical and pharma companies in the United States to adjust their approach to collecting and using real-world data that is gathered outside of randomized controlled trials. This could potentially save the US healthcare industry millions of dollars. As the 21stCentury Cures Act takes effect, the FDA will be required to take into account the key uses of real-world evidence for drugs and medical devices, including incorporating this data to support new indications.

Change in Workforce

In the United States, employment is undergoing rapid changes. In recent times, it has been observed that employment in occupations that require more education and training are on the rise. So, many workers are realizing that retraining and upgrading their skills are lifetime commitments. Furthermore, the workplace now encompasses multiple generations representing a wide variety of skills, life experiences, technical training, and educational qualifications. Such a diverse workforce environment could pose several challenges for companies in the US healthcare industry Effective communication is the most difficult aspect of managing a workplace comprising different generations of employees remains.

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