From the time you started preparing for the MCATs to wherever you are in your medical career today, it’s likely that the healthcare landscape has dramatically changed, challenging your pre-conceived notions about patient care and everyday business operations.
Politically, healthcare continues to be a hot-button topic, dividing voters on the issues like Medicare-for-all. Additionally, some states have made significant legislative moves to expand Medicaid while other states are enacting laws which seek to provide their residents with more affordable healthcare options. Overall, the nation’s outlook on future healthcare provisions is uncertain.
Beyond the political landscape, changing consumer preferences about care and an increased reliance on technology likely will most impact the top healthcare trends affecting the clinical, operational, and financial realities physicians will face.
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So which healthcare trends should physicians look out for in 2020 and beyond?
1. Transparency: Today’s healthcare consumer is not only frugal, but technology-reliant and convenience-driven. Consumers are searching for their care online and basing their healthcare choices on online reviews, availability of care, and transparently published pricing. The result? An increased reliance on retail clinics and urgent care providers that are giving larger practices a run for their money. Some physicians are opting to add urgent care services to their practice while others are offering mobile consultations.
2. Consolidation: Not only are small hospitals being acquired by larger healthcare systems, but many private practices are selling ownership to hospitals or larger practices in order to re-focus their energies on patient care. For some, these moves may seem to be an indicator of better care at more affordable prices to come, but for others, the accelerating rate of mergers and acquisitions may feel like a healthcare game of monopoly with industry giants emerging to claim the largest share. Will a private practice be able to survive in this evolving climate? At what cost? How will a physician be able to differentiate his or her value to consumers over these larger, more streamlined models?
3. The Shift to Value-Based Care: Value-based care is an alternative to fee-based care whereby a physician or hospital is compensated in relationship to outcomes, rather than amount of services provided. The Centers for Medicaid Services (CMS) has introduced a handful of value-based models aimed at holding physicians accountable and in turn promoting better care, improving overall population health, and reducing healthcare costs; however, this model is not without its own problems. For example, medical professionals may feel compelled to order additional tests and labs to demonstrate the efficacy of their medical treatment plans.
4. Staffing Shortages: With an aging population, doctors and nurses in the healthcare industry are retiring at a rate faster than they are being replaced, causing a staffing shortage across the board. And with technology-based, on-demand services that can connect physicians and nurses to temporary positions on an as-needed basis, some candidates are choosing to forego the traditional practice setting for this type of “freelance-esque” work option. This is great option for single practitioners looking to pocket some cash and travel while working, but it has made hiring qualified candidates in the traditional setting more difficult.
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