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Health Care Trends and Issues for 2016

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Jan 11, 2016

2016 is sure to be exciting, as the pressure to cut costs will bring about newly emerging reimbursement methods, technological advances, and more efficient and value-driven health care service delivery. While change can be exciting, it can also create anxiety, especially among smaller rural and independent hospital organizations. These organizations are often less able to withstand the continued pressure on costs and less able to deploy the capital necessary to keep up with advances in technology and other more enduring changes in the health care landscape. In these uncertain times, it is more important than ever to remain focused on core business fundamentals:

  • Prepare for greater price transparency and the potential price competition in some markets by understanding the organization’s cost structures.
  • Focus on understanding and excelling in core service lines, and explore new ambulatory/retail-focused service lines as a way to enhance the revenue streams available to the organization.
  • Ensure that the organization has the right complement of clinical and non-clinical staff to drive these emerging shifts in health care delivery.
  • Allow the reimbursement landscape to evolve before deploying significant resources into changing the health care delivery model.
  • Cautiously evaluate new and emerging technology and its usefulness to the organization and its patients.
  • Explore opportunities to collaborate with larger regional tertiary referral partners. Strategic partnerships can be formed in many ways. Partnerships should be developed around the organization’s strategy and structured around the specific needs of its respective organizations.

Technology, Analytics and Investment
Regardless of which alternative reimbursement methodology ultimately prevails, one thing has become clear in the health care industry: in order to drive down costs, the technology and analytical capabilities of organizations must be enhanced.

Consolidation Continues
For rural and independent hospitals, it will be important to collaborate with regional tertiary referral partners on telemedicine and other initiatives. This will allow for better scalability of technology and ensure more seamless care transitions for patients who want to receive care locally.

2016 promises to usher in its share of challenges and opportunities, stemming from emerging trends in the health care industry. Arguably, the most daunting task for health care leaders in 2016 will be accurately anticipating the veritable “shelf life” of these emerging trends.

Success will be defined not only by the ability to predict and respond to the more enduring changes in our industry, but also by the ability to exercise restraint in the face of trends that while fashionable may ultimately prove short-lived.

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Nicholas E. Smith
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