PwC's 6 top healthcare issues for 2021

Virtual health, clinical trials and digital relationships are among the top healthcare issues for 2021, according to a new report released Dec. 16 by PwC's Health Research Institute.

The six top issues, according to the report:

1. Virtual health. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of virtual visits between providers and patients. Next healthcare industry players will determine what works well and not well for virtual care, according to the report. "Payers may wrestle with how to reimburse, and in some cases, provide virtual care," said PwC. "Pharmaceutical and life sciences companies may have to determine where they can and should plug in, literally. Providers may continue to improve the patient experience and be careful not to create new disparities in the health system through lack of technology access." 

2. Clinical trials. Clinical trials are also changing amid the pandemic. Pharmaceutical and life sciences companies are working to limit in-person clinical trial visits, according to the report. PwC said payers and providers also have social determinants of health data, which may be able to help pharmaceutical and life sciences companies establish clinical trial protocols that serve more diverse populations.

3. Digital relationships. Digital technology can help ease the administrative burdens felt by clinicians, if done right, according to the report. Next year, PwC said it expects to see greater investment by payers in process automation and health systems shift in automation from the back office of finance and human resources to the physician's office.

4. Healthcare forecasting. With an uncertain 2021 ahead, having forecasting ability — and good strategic planning, advanced analytics and modeling — will be crucial for healthcare organizations, PwC said. To forecast shifts in the insurance market, consumer behavior and other areas in a particular U.S. region, PwC recommends local partnerships between health providers, payers, community groups and government agencies.

5. Health portfolios. Healthcare companies this year have been forced to evolve to remain financially stable and resilient. PwC said it expects some companies to return to driving their pre-pandemic growth agendas next year, and it expects more investment in and by healthcare companies to drive growth.

6. Supply chain. PwC said next year it expects healthcare to reconstruct the supply chain to function more like automotive, technology and other industries. "Where possible, the health system is expected to begin to triangulate supply chain risks, knowing as much as possible about their suppliers' suppliers and establishing new collaborations to secure the supply chain through diverse geographies and sourcing materials," PwC said. "These actions will likely mean near-term incremental investments into supply chain capabilities, resulting in marginally higher direct costs. However, they could lay the groundwork for a more flexible and responsive supply chain that could rapidly scale up or down to meet customer needs."

Access the full report here


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