While healthcare has always been a dynamic industry with many complexities and players involved, the ante was really raised when The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), was signed into law by President Obama in March 2010. Since then, every year has been the ‘Year of the ACA.’ To some degree, it will never go away completely because of its influence on decision and policy makers across the healthcare spectrum. As we sit here on the cusp of 2015, nearly 4 full years since the regulatory overhaul took effect, there are no signs that the healthcare industry will slow down or the impact of the ACA will cease to be felt. If anything, we’ll continue to see the torrid pace intensify across all areas including life sciences, health IT, medical device, biotechnology, pharma, payers, providers and care facilities. However, unlike previous years, 2015 should see a shift away from ‘all ACA, all the time,’ towards a truly market-wide industry that is increasingly innovative, wired and consumer-driven. At a macro level, there are several trends that will have an impact and touch most parties across the healthcare spectrum:
Show me the money. Healthcare spending will rise, largely driven by the ACA, the economic uptick and the continued focus on the Triple Aim (improving the health of the population, enhancing the experience and outcomes of the patient, and reducing the overall cost of care). Total health spending will trend upwards as more people have access to health insurance as a result of the ACA. As the economy starts to turn a corner and the recovery strengthens, consumers that may have put off procedures and tests over the past few years will start to take care of lingering ailments, regularly visit with their primary care physician, and make investments in their overall health and wellness. But, the uptick won’t be limited to patients/consumers. Payers and providers will continue to invest in technologies that improve collaboration between the two entities. Providers and care facilities will continue to invest in technologies that move and store data (largely driven by Meaningful Use) such as EHRs, which help to make more informed decisions based on up-to-date information about patients, their conditions and treatment options.
Personalized medicine: Individualized treatment and care based on unique personal and genetic variation, or, in other words, the ‘right drug for the right person.’ For many years, cancer was the singular driver of personalized medicine. Over time that started to shift. And in 2015, that will change at a faster and more advanced rate—in fact, areas such as infectious disease and cardiovascular disease should make some solid inroads over the next 12 months. As the field expands beyond cancer, it will further develop into a rapidly growing market, which has been predicted by PricewaterhouseCoopers to grow to as much as $452 billion by the end of 2015. Why? Because personalized medicine creates added value for all sides in the healthcare industry. An individually customized therapy benefits not only patients, but also physicians (by making it easier to choose the right therapy), regulatory authorities (by making risk-benefit assessment more precise), and payers (because available resources can be used more efficiently by potentially reducing the number of additional or ineffective treatments).
Mobile (mHealth), Telehealth and Cyber security. Oh my! Physicians, health care providers and other health care professionals are all using smartphones, laptops and tablets in their work, most notably at the point of care (POC). According to a 2014 HIMSS survey, 83 percent of physicians already use mobile technology to provide patient care. From the IDC FutureScape for Health Insights report, by 2018, 65 percent of consumer transactions with healthcare organizations will be through mobile devices, requiring organizations to develop strategies for Web, mobile and telephone. To help manage chronic conditions, 70 percent of healthcare organizations will invest in mobile applications, wearables, remote health monitoring, and virtual care by 2018. But while there is great promise in mHealth, health care leaders face the challenges of protecting patient information. According to IDC, by 2015, half of healthcare organizations will have experienced one to five cyber attacks in the previous 12 months, with a third of those attacks successful. There appears to be no end in sight when it comes to the advancements within mHealth and Telehealth, driven by the patient/consumers’ insatiable appetite for ease-of-use and personal healthcare involvement. 2015 should be a year of transition for security in healthcare where all key stakeholders in the ecosystem focus on the state of their cybersecurity or else run the risk of failure—and, given that they all carry information related to patient medical data and intellectual property tied to healthcare innovation, failure isn’t an option.
Patient experience. This comes even more to the forefront in 2015 as a result of advancements and innovations aimed at improving both the patient’s experience with the entire healthcare spectrum (from within the walls of the doctor’s office to benefits management to insurance coverage, as well as the ever-growing of ‘do-it-yourself’ movement whereby people expect the convenience of being able to monitor vital signs, analyze blood and urine, track medication adherence and more whenever, however, and wherever they choose). In 2015, healthcare organizations will continue to push this angle and will seek to better align a patient’s experience through all channels—mobile, web and in-person.
Strap in and hold on tight, 2015 is shaping up to be another great year in healthcare. Regardless of where your company happens to sit within the healthcare continuum, these times call for a clearly defined strategy, well-articulated messaging and positioning, and a strong brand awareness and identity. Are you ready?