There is a strong focus on the health care industry in 2017. Controversy over the future of the Affordable Care Act dominates the news, overshadowing other major health care trends. Let’s take a look at the ACA, as well as other important health care trends to watch for in 2017.
1. The Future of the Affordable Care Act
The Trump administration’s plans to change the Affordable Care Act, frequently referred to as Obamacare, has had breaking developments almost every day so far this year. As of this writing, no new legislation has been passed to repeal or replace the ACA as Congress and the White House continue to wrangle over proposed changes.
2. Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act
MACRA legislation made some major changes to how health care providers will be paid in the United States. Since 2017 is the first year for the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System under MACRA, it’s important for physicians to understand what MACRA requires them to do. Even though MACRA was planned to be in full effect from the beginning of this year, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has delayed its full implementation and has allowed practices to participate partially in 2017.1
The government delayed full implementation of MACRA for several reasons, including that many providers aren’t aware of MACRA, and reaching rural and small practices is a challenging task. The implementation of MACRA is also a challenge because it’s a complex, 2,400-page document.
3. Health Care Costs
This year will see increased health care costs, balanced by a demand for value. Due to this offset, PwC Health Research Institute estimates that 2017 medical cost trends will remain the same as 2016 with a growth rate of 6.5 percent.2 The decade’s slowing medical cost growth rate may rise in 2017 as new health care access points increase utilization.
4. Value-Based Care
The shift from volume to value will continue in 2017 with an increased focus on consumers. Part of this change will be due to MACRA and the 21st Century Cures Act. EHRs will be fundamental for collecting data and processing analyses necessary to support an improvement in population health, quality initiatives and better patient outcomes.
For health care providers to remain competitive and compliant with federal mandates, organizations must make consumer-friendly services more accessible while decreasing costs. Addressing drug costs is also increasingly a priority.
2017 promises to be an active year for ePrescribing. Prescription automation is expected to increase due to costs and the rising volume of medications. The ePrescribing infrastructure that’s in place and use cases that have emerged will fuel wider adoption. The rapid and continuing acceleration in controlled-substance prescription volume seen over the past few years will also contribute to ePrescribing growth in 2017.
The future continues to present changing health care trends. Health care industries need to understand and adapt to any changes that drive value in innovation and use them as foundations for upcoming changes. There may be some unpredictable changes, but 2017 comes with many opportunities to deliver the best patient outcomes.