Fortune makes 10 healthcare predictions for 2016

Numerous trends, proposals and deals will come to a head in 2016.

Fortune magazine has prepared 10 predictions for the healthcare industry next year.

1. The Federal Trade Commission will block a major hospital merger after considering data that consolidation leads to price hikes more than improved quality.

2. A new breed of wearables will include substitutes for expensive medical therapies. They will offer less invasive but highly effective treatments for diseases, as well as embrace a value-based business model, as opposed to wellness, entertainment and education, according to Fortune.

3. End-of-life care will gain more public attention and hospice use will double among accountable care organizations and capitated physicians. Increasingly expensive medications, high deductible plans and new payment models will encourage physicians to engage in more end-of-life discussions with patients. According to Fortune, this will eventually lead to increased pressure on drug pricing, higher Net Promoted Scores from patients and higher incomes for physicians.

4. A major hospital system will divest its employed physicians after realizing high financial losses and avoiding the transition to risk-based reimbursement. In turn, hospitals will begin closing their money-losing practices, like when the physician practice management roll-ups failed in the 1990s, according to the report.

5. The insurance innovation frenzy in 2015 will fizzle in 2016. Several provider-sponsored health plans and startups will find it difficult to achieve competitive premiums, which will lead to too few enrollees. Despite the compelling innovative software put forth by insurance startups, the health insurance market ultimately favors large-scale plans that can leverage their market power to achieve better provider discounts and use case managers to more effectively manage high-cost patients, according to the report.

6. Hype around precision medicine will level off because "biology is too complex, and care is simply not reliable enough to benefit from the fine-tuning imagined by precision medicine," according to Fortune. A greater return on investment will continue to come from generic statins and improving patient compliance.

7. Hospitals will reduce use of certain population health management tools. Some population health analytics companies will fade because their current medical provider customers cannot derive enough value from their analytics tools; most providers already know which patients are classified as "high-risk," rendering these tools superfluous.  

 8. The high cost of on-demand healthcare will diminish demand. The limited ability of most people to pay expensive prices for on-demand physician care and prescription drug delivery combined with the high cost of customer acquisition will significantly reduce demand for on-demand healthcare. Telemedicine will increase in popularity as consumers seek increased access to care at lower costs, and traditional pharmacy pick-ups for prescription drugs will persist.

9. PCSK9 cholesterol drugs will increase in popularity. Physicians will increasingly turn to PCSK9s for their unique ability to lower cholesterol to minuscule levels, and patients will prefer the convenience of the weekly injections to daily pills, according to the report. The success of weekly injections will lead to more innovation in drug delivery methods that reduce risk for noncompliance due to patient's forgetting to take pills.

10. Employers will attribute greater importance to healthcare costs. "Just as employers mandate preferred travel partners and per diems for travel expenses, they will become equally active in imposing rules to manage healthcare costs," according to Fortune. Large employers may instruct employees to use preferred hospitals and physicians, require second opinions before high-cost procedures and treatments, encourage the use of telemedicine or require use of online tools for managing out-of-pocket expenses, according to the report. 

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