COVID-19 has disrupted American healthcare. But there are still important non-COVID-19 trends to keep an eye on.
1) Wellness: Real Deal, Not a Passing Fad
As the cost of healthcare in this nation continues its relentless climb, health system and managed care executives are focusing on the development of strong population health programs and preventive care initiatives as a way to keep patients healthy and avoid chronic conditions that drive up drug and medical services expenditures.
Anthony Viceroy, CEO of Westmed Medical Group, a multispecialty group in Westchester County, New York, and Fairfield County, Connecticut, believes that “wellness” is not just a popular trend or a passing fad. “By preventing or delaying chronic diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, we can help improve the quality of care for patients, while reducing unnecessary costs in the system,” he says. “It is our belief that the only way to bend the cost curve of healthcare is to champion disease prevention and to promote healthy habits outside of the exam room.”
Viceroy says at Westmed they have noticed that millennials are better than boomers and other generations when it comes to being participants in their own healthcare. They are proving to be more mindful of activities that promote wellness and disease prevention. “This demographic readily adopts innovation and technology to help them track their heart [health], weight, nutrition, and fitness,” says Viceroy.
He adds large medical groups like Westmed have an important role to play in partnering with patients to help them stay out of the hospital and be the healthiest versions of themselves. “I think as a result, you will see more outpatient practices and healthcare systems using data and community health programs to keep patients healthy outside of the doctor’s office.”
2) Data Mastery: Do or Die
As 2020 unfolds, Scott D. Hayworth, MD, believes there will be a growing — and increasingly urgent — need to collect and analyze data.
“Over the past decade, value-based reimbursement and compensation have become more dominant. Providers who cannot tap into the power of data collection, analysis, and guided action will simply not survive,” says Hayworth, who is president and CEO of CareMount Medical in Chappaqua, New York. “Patients are demanding, and payers are rewarding more cost-effective, versatile, and accessible systems of care.”
Depending on in-house resources likely won’t be the way to go. Data management service businesses will become essential partners to many provider groups and institutions, to manage both population health and the increasingly personalized care, says Hayworth.
3) Focus on Individual Impact
John Showalter, MD, MSIS, chief product officer of Jvion, a healthcare analytics and AI firm in suburban Atlanta, says that with a CMS evaluation showing that the next generation of ACOs aren’t saving money, population health will be seen as less effective. “I think that will lead to a trend of increasing focus on individual impact,” he says. “There will be a move from cohort management to individual risk management; specifically, there will be an increased discussion about how AI can help.”
4) The Medical-Social Support “Mash-Up”
Don McDaniel, CEO of Canton & Company, a Baltimore healthcare consultant, believes there will be a continued focus on “mash-ups” that go beyond traditional healthcare services spending and include social services, housing, nutrition, and the like.