You Cannot Escape Them: 5 Healthcare Trends That Will Continue To Impact You

By Tom Schramski, PhD, CMAA

Volume 1 Issue 24, December 23, 2014

unnamed (2)My dad eschewed New Year’s resolutions, claiming that there was rarely a sense of accomplishment and often a sense of guilt (“next year I’ll lose those 15 pounds”).  As he would say, “just live.”

Trends are a different creature to assess in the New Year – they are integrated into every act of our lives.  We create trends and watch them grow as we are impacted at a subconscious level.  They are always on the move and we co-conspire in their evolution.

The following trends are not unique to late 2014 and early 2015.  They have been developing for many years and have now accelerated in our post-Great Recession and hyper-innovation era.  The Vertess focus is on how they may impact your organization’s future.

Trend 1

The epitome of disruptive innovation in healthcare is the continuing growth in the retailing of healthcare, whether it’s the Minute Clinic-type Urgent Care Center or the compound pharmacy that has rapidly expanded it’s health and wellness options.  The impact for all healthcare is to assess how this retailing direction can be applied to your services and products.  What about a cash/credit-only DME niche?   How about the home alert product/service offerings of a home care agency?

Trend 2

Customers, whether third-party insurers or cash paying families, want to see the value of what you offer for them.  They want to know how your product or service will improve their condition.  You need to have the infrastructure to assess people’s needs before you intervene, to evaluate your impact, and then record the outcomes in a meaningful way.  While EMR/HER records can be expensive, very often the most important data can be recorded very simply and then presented directly to your customers.  There is a tremendous opportunity to gain a competitive advantage here.

Trend 3

Disruptive technology (more affordable and accessible) is rapidly shaping the world of healthcare and moving in the smartphone direction.  What about you?  Can you document home care services delivered via a phone app and save paper while reducing fraud potential?  Are your clients able to update your clinical records by recording their behavioral health stories on their phone?

Trend 4

The trend of consolidation does not guarantee efficiency or profitability and is often held in contempt as the enemy of free enterprise and the average citizen.  Along with the growing interest in localism (e.g. craft beer) comes the increasing trend of affiliation and maintenance of relative autonomy.  Which other companies could you affiliate with and expand the market for your medical device?  What administrative services could you offer that are tailored to the needs of competitors?  Blessed are the facilitators for they will be enterprise magnets in their marketplace

Trend 5

The “free agent nation” championed by Daniel Pink nearly 14 years ago is well upon us and it cuts two ways – potential workers want their independence and employers want to simplify their life and become contractors.  While benefits issues (e.g. healthcare coverage) remain, this trend has received a strong push from recent interpretations of DOL/IRS standards and healthcare reform.  Have you investigated the applicability of contracting to your business?  Are you sure your employees really want to be employees?  Have you considered options like professional employer organizations (PEO) that can simplify your organization and reduce unnecessary expenses in the face of service funding adjustments?

There are many other trends, including the continuing growth of managed care organizations (MCOs) and regulatory pressure in many markets.  As we stated, each of these trends will impact you because you had some role in their development.  We encourage you to take a hard look at these trends, assess the potential impact, and bravely consider where the opportunity lies for you.