Social determinants come to the forefront
The United States spends more on healthcare per capita per year than any other nation, but lags in outcomes. To improve health while saving money, the industry needs to expand the borders of healthcare — to think beyond the walls of a hospital and look holistically at the full profile of a patient, well beyond a specific health issue. While increasing access to healthcare and transforming the healthcare delivery systems are important, research demonstrates that improving population health and achieving health equity also will require broader approaches that address social, economic, and environmental factors that influence health.
Patient experience as a priority and not just a patient portal
Today’s consumer is used to sophisticated shopping experiences, in which retailers harness consumer information to tailor how they interact with customers. As the healthcare industry turns toward paying more for value instead of volume, health companies will need to take this same approach and make strategic investments to improve patient experience, to ensure that patients feel truly cared about, listened to and respected. In the face of multiple priorities and limited resources, leaders of health care organizations may question the value of measuring and improving the patient's experience with care. Yet, powerful market and regulatory trends, combined with increasing evidence linking patient experience to important clinical and business outcomes, make a compelling case for improvement.
The healthcare industry tackles the opioid crisis
Overdose deaths involving prescription opioids have quadrupled since 1999, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. From 1999 to 2015, more than 183,000 people have died in the U.S. from overdoses related to prescription opioids.
Despite the ongoing drumbeat of concern — from policymakers, healthcare organizations and consumer advocates — the crisis has proven complex, with no quick fixes. This is a phenomenon too big to solve by only one player – there is a role for everyone across the healthcare landscape, from prescribers, to payers, to the pharmaceutical industry, in order to reverse this trend. It is also critical that new regulatory measures do not swing the pendulum too far — and make it virtually impossible for painkillers to be available to patients who desperately need them.
Securing the internet of things
Following a year marked by major, industry wide cybersecurity breaches and a 525% increase in medical device cybersecurity vulnerabilities reported by the government, healthcare organizations must take quick, decisive action to maintain data privacy, secure the thousands of connected medical devices on their networks and protect patients. Companies should treat cybersecurity incidents as a “non-natural” disaster, and invest more in planning, defensive measures, and personnel.
Over the last decade there has been massive headway in the amount of data routinely generated and collected, as well as the ability to use technology to analyze and understand it. The intersection of these progressions has been called “Big Data,” and it is helping businesses, including those in healthcare, become more efficient and productive. Not only can “Big Data” improve profits, it is being used to predict epidemics, improve quality of life, and cure disease. Still, many researchers complain that government regulations encourage healthcare providers to maintain information silos, hurting the data analysis that could further improve business operations and patient care. How to unlock critical data while respecting privacy concerns will be a huge challenge in 2018 and the years to come.