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PWC on Industry Trends for 2015

By December 16, 2014Commentary

Health care is a huge industry, so there are always myriad developments and trends.  Trying to figure out which ones are most impactful for the industry as a whole or for segments is not easy.  A report from PWC’s Health Research Institute does its best.   (PWC Report)   The firm survey 1000 consumers and interviewed experts to identify top issues for the coming year.  Some of the key findings are that consumers are concerned about the privacy of health information and about life sciences companies’ payments to providers, are open to receiving more care from non-physicians and that physicians and consumers are accepting of more health care being performed in the home.  Out of the survey and interviews emerged ten key trends for 2015.  These start with do-it-yourself health care in which patients use mobile and other technologies to monitor their health and share the data with providers.  Two, mobile apps need to adapt to being regulated by the FDA, perhaps even seeking that regulation as a seal of approval.  Three, consumers will value security and privacy of health information over convenience in accessing and using it.  Four, innovation needs to be directed at high-cost patients.  (We say amen to this, if you want to save money, you have to focus on where it is spent.)  Five, payment for products and services will increasingly be tied to outcomes, and as patients pay more of the total, their perception of value will become more important.  Six, transparency on who is paying how much to providers will grow in significance.  Seven, understanding who the newly insured through the public exchanges are.  (Note that a number of insurers clearly guessed wrong about who they would be, as many have either pulled out in the second year or dramatically raised prices.)  Eight, continued growth in use of non-physician clinicians, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants.  (Another trend we heartily applaud, as dropping unit costs is probably the most significant key to reducing spending increases.)  Nine, understanding differences in what “good health” means to different age groups.  (Please stop focussing on millenials, they don’t spend any money on health care.)  Ten, partnerships are increasing, including between payers and providers and providers and product companies.  An interesting list, but here is the real most important trend/issue that should be dealt with in 2015.  The average middle-income American is getting killed by health care costs–their cost share is going up and their income growth is stagnant.

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