My Top 11 Healthcare Predictions For 2013

It’s always fun to predict what will happen in the next year. No one is ever right, but you can hope to be directionally correct. With that in mind, here’s a few of my thoughts for what will happen in 2013…

  1. Reform (PPACA aka ObamaCare) will happen. While the Republicans will fight it, with Obama’s re-election and the Supreme Court decision. Reform will continue to happen. The states will mess up the Exchanges which will create many issues, but private exchanges will come to the “rescue”.
  2. Big Data” will be a focus at every healthcare company. What data to store? How to mine the data? What data to integrate? How to bring in unstructured data such as physician’s notes? What to do with consumer reported and consumer tracked data from all the different devices?
  3. Physicians will emerge back in the power seat. With Accountable Care Organizations and Patient Centered Medical Homes, consumers are finally becoming more aware of all the shortcomings in our sick care system. They trust their physicians although somewhat blindly given ongoing challenges with evidence-based care and quality which are often the result of our Fee For Service system (too little time) combined with an abundance of new research happening concurrently.
  4. mHealth will be the buzz word and exciting space as entrepreneurs from outside healthcare and people with personal healthcare experiences will attempt to capitalize on the technology gap and chaos within the health system. This will create lots of innovation, but adoption will lag as consumers struggle with 15,000+ apps and the sickest patients (often older patients) are the slowest to adopt.
  5. Device proliferation will go hand in hand with mHealth and with the Quantified Self movement. This will create general health devices, fitness devices, diabetes solutions, hypertension solutions, and many other devices for wellness and home monitoring for elderly patients. Like mHealth, this will foster lots of innovation but be overwhelming for consumers and lead to opportunities for device agnostic solutions for capturing data and integrating that data for payors and providers to use.
  6. The focus on incentives will shift in two ways. Technology vendors will begin to look more and more at the gamification of healthcare and how to use gaming theory and technology to drive initial and sustained engagement. At the same time, the recent ruling will allow employers to shift from rewards to “penalties” in the form of premium differentials where patients who don’t do certain things such as take biometric screenings or engage with a case manager will pay more. In 2014 and 2015, this shift will be from penalties with activity to penalties tied to outcomes.
  7. Consumer based testing will drive greater regulation. With the focus on home based testing (e.g., HIV or High Cholesterol) and the increased interest in genetic testing especially when tied to a medication, the FDA and other government agencies will have to address this market with new regulations to close gaps such as life insurance companies being able to force disclosure of genetic testing in order to get coverage (even though the testing isn’t necessarily deterministic).
  8. Clinics will prepare for 2014. With the increase number of consumers being covered in 2014, there will be an access challenge for patients to see a provider. This will drive buildout and utilization of health clinics such as TakeCare or MinuteClinic. Clinics will have to look at how to adapt their workflow to create a patient relationship which will create potential integration points with TeleHealth and bring back up the issue of whether they should or could replace the traditional Primary Care Provider (PCP) relationship or not.
  9. Telemedicine will hit a tipping point and begin to Cross the Chasm. They now have better technology and adoption within major employers. This will start to create more and more business cases and social awareness of the solution. With utilization, we will see great adoption and the increasing use of smart phones for healthcare will drive telemedicine into an accelerated growth stage.
  10. Transparency solutions will continue to be a hot area with CastLight and Change Healthcare leading the way. Their independence and consumer engagement approaches based on critical moments (i.e., pointing out how to save money on Rxs just before a refill) and using multiple channels will show high ROI which will also increase broader healthcare awareness making them part of the population health solution.
  11. Generics will no longer be a talked about issue. With generic fill rates running so high across different groups and being front page news, PBMs, pharmacies, and pharma will truly begin to move forward to embrace the specialty market with a clear vengeance (at least in the US).

There are still a few longer term trends that I’m watching, but I don’t think that 2013 is the primary year for them.

  1. The evolving role of pharmacists within the Medical Home and with vaccines.
  2. A significant shift from mail order to 90-day at retail fulfilled by massive central fill facilities.
  3. Pharma co-opetition where they begin to collaborate at the disease state level realizing the a rising tide is good for all boats.
  4. Integration of data from all types of solutions and actions into workflow triggers that automatically create new events within the care management infrastructure using Service Oriented Architecture and Business Process Management.
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