American healthcare is entering its second year of transformation under the framework of the Affordable Care Act. With some 10 million formerly uninsured Americans now on the health coverage rolls, and with many families adjusting their budgets to accommodate monthly insurance premiums, the change has been undoubtedly disruptive.
So what’s happening to the healthcare market? Even though it still remains huge at $2.9 trillion a year, President Barack Obama noted in his State of the Union address that spending growth has slowed down remarkably–to its lowest rate in 50 years.
It’s that kind of trend and others that industry experts are keeping an eye on as ACA settles in to what will likely be a permanent part of the healthcare landscape.
PwC Chairman Bob Moritz recently shared his insights on the industry with Forbes magazine, identifying major trends shaking up the industry. Here are some highlights:
Healthcare insurance is transforming into a retail industry.
Millions of new customers have poured into the market. Private and public healthcare insurance exchanges are helping customers decide which healthcare companies to choose–and the competition is fierce! “The result is an industry that is increasingly responsive to its customers,” Moritz writes. The hope is that healthcare will mirror what happens when competition heats up in the retail sector–consumers reap the benefits of better prices, products and services.
An emphasis on quality over quantity.
The ACA framework sets aside the healthcare industry’s old fee-for-service business model and has replaced it with a model that rewards patient outcomes. This is shaking up the way providers approach patient care, and the way pharmaceutical and medical device companies devise their product development strategies. “All the while, healthcare consumers are benefitting,” Moritz writes.
Success of a healthcare industry under ACA will hinge on ensuring data security.
Data mining and analytics should open a number of opportunities for payers and providers to find ways to lower costs while improving service. And, according to recent surveys, more than half of consumers are willing to share their data if it will help improve health outcomes. But privacy must be ensured, Moritz writes. “More than 65 percent of consumers said data security was more important to them than convenient access to imaging, and test results, doctors’ notes, diagnoses and prescriptions.”