8 Healthcare Trends to Watch in 2014

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The upcoming year promises to be an eventful one for the healthcare industry as major provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act transform the landscape for providers, payers and patients.

Everyone involved in the healthcare value chain will see substantial industry shifts in 2014, according to a Health Affairs blog post by Susan DeVore, president and CEO of Premier — a healthcare improvement alliance encompassing more than 2,800 hospitals and health systems and more than 93,000 non-acute care sites.

In her blog post, Ms. DeVore identified the following eight trends as ones Premier is preparing for in 2014.

1. Chronic care will become a focal point. As providers involved in accountable care organizations work their way toward shared savings payments, managing the health of patients with multiple chronic conditions will become paramount. An increasing number of providers will launch ambulatory intensive care units or patient-centered medical homes to better manage chronic conditions.

2. More and more providers will employ health coaches. Early adopters of the A-ICU model say their biggest asset in managing chronic conditions is health coaching. Health coaches get to know patients one-on-one and keep clinical staff informed about financial issues, family concerns, housing problems or other obstacles to following a prescribed care plan.

3. Healthcare will move to the home. Technology increasingly enables at-home healthcare for patients, increasing access to care and allowing people who otherwise might be hospitalized to receive medical services in their homes instead.

4. Employee incentives for healthy behaviors will become more popular. Driven by the free tools available and financial incentives, employers will increasingly implement wellness programs to motivate their workers to avoid lifestyle choices that drive up healthcare service consumption and costs.

5. Private exchanges are on the rise. A growing number of employers are considering private health insurance exchanges for their workers. These exchanges allow businesses to contract with benefits providers, which offer various health plans from dozens of health insurers. The rise of these private exchanges will give people with employer-based coverage the opportunity to customize their coverage, according to Ms. DeVore.

6. Big healthcare policy changes lie in wait. Although big changes to the PPACA are unlikely in the next year or so, Premier anticipates lawmakers will permanently fix Medicare's sustainable growth rate formula for determining physician payments. CMS will also likely adjust the new two-midnight regulation for inpatient hospital admissions in response to criticism from hospitals and other providers.

7. Big data will become more open. Electronic health records, decision support tools and other new technologies allow providers to automate processes and capture clinical data. However, they're limited in not being open to innovation. In 2014, Ms. DeVore expects providers to advocate for making application interfaces open-source so they  can be used to create new programs.

8. Partnerships will expand to facilitate new approaches to care delivery. This year, healthcare partnerships will likely include community-based groups, such as social service agencies, gyms and other non-healthcare service providers, as the industry strives to better manage the health of patient populations.

More Articles on Healthcare Reform:
A Brief History on the Road to Healthcare Reform: From Truman to Obama  
12 Insights Into Great Leadership  
How Disruptive Change is Blurring the Lines Between Providers and Payers 

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