Top health industry issues of 2016

screenshot_79PwC’s Health Research Institute’s annual report highlights the forces expected to have the most impact on industry in 2016, with a glance back at key trends from the past decade.

In 2016, millions of American consumers will have their first video consults, be prescribed their first health apps and use their smartphones as diagnostic tools for the first time. These new experiences will begin to make real the dream of care anywhere, anytime, changing consumer expectations and fueling innovation.

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2016 also will be the year that many Americans, faced with higher deductibles, manage medical expenses with new tools and services rolled out by their insurance companies, healthcare providers, banks and other new entrants. These new experiences will remind consumers of the way they now plan for retirement, using 401(k)s and other financial vehicles. Increasingly, in
this developing New Health Economy, the way healthcare is paid for, delivered and accessed will start to echo other industries.

This will be the year that, shift by shift, visit by visit, nurses, doctors and other clinicians learn to work in new ways, incorporating insights gleaned from data analyses into their treatment plans. They will begin conducting e-visits with behavioral health patients and reacting to alerts from remote patient monitoring devices sent home with newly discharged patients.

Some clinicians will begin work in new “bedless” hospitals and virtual care centers, overseeing scores of patients in far-flung locations. Fueled by alternative payment models, technological advances and powerful new database tools, these new ways of delivering care will spread. Care delivery will begin to change.

In many cases, these are initial steps in a long journey. Much of the $3.2 trillion industry still lacks the financial incentives that are key to sweeping transformation.1 Questions about who owns the data persist, impeding information sharing, formation of partnerships and the seeming holy grail of interoperability.

2016 also is an election year, and healthcare will be in the political mix, as it has been before. Despite two US Supreme Court decisions solidifying the legality of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), efforts will continue in 2016 to chip away at provisions such as the “Cadillac tax” on high-cost health policies, the contraception mandate, the medical device tax and scheduled provider payment cuts.

Drug pricing also has become an issue on the campaign trail as consumers feel the pinch of higher costs, even with generic medications and new “biosimilar” products. And politics may play a role in regulatory appraisals of the many mergers and acquisitions announced by insurers, healthcare systems and drug makers.

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HRI’s main findings this year:

• Adoption of health-related smartphone apps have doubled in the last two years. In 2013, 16% of consumers said they had at least one health app on their device.2 Two years later, 32% said they did.3 HRI also found that millennials, who are enthusiastically embracing wearables and health apps, prefer virtual communication for health interactions.4

• Well-known healthcare brands may have a market advantage. Consolidation is creating larger health systems and insurers. These moves make branding critical. HRI’s 2015 consumer survey found Americans are willing to drive further to receive care from a well-known system, signaling receptiveness to brand over convenience. Many consumers, however, say they are not willing to pay more for care delivered health systems considered “best in field.”5

Nearly 40% of consumers would abandon or hesitate using a health organization if it is hacked. Medical devices from pacemakers to infusion pumps are becoming more connected, but also more vulnerable to breaches and cyberattacks. More than 50% of consumers told HRI they would avoid, or be wary of using, a connected medical device if such a breach were reported.7

In 2016, the health industry will begin to lay down rough new paths to a more connected, transparent, convenient ecosystem. Eventually these paths will develop into well-trodden trails, roads and highways. This hard work — this forging of new ways of receiving, paying for and delivering care — is a hallmark of the creation of a New Health Economy, an industry that is more digital, nimble, responsive and focused on consumers. As organizations master these tools and services, they will combine them in new ways, form new partnerships and ultimately transform the industry.

World of DTC Marketing Insight..

1ne: It seems that these are what pharma should do as opposed to what they will do.

2wo: Health apps need to be separated from “fitness apps”.

3hree: One of THE biggest challenges facing pharma is hiring the right people who can teach the organization on the importance of putting patients first and transparency.

4our:For consumers of healthcare, it’s all about quality of life in deciding treatment options. Pharma marketers should focus on the benefits of the product as it applies to helping patients lead the life want.