The global healthcare industry has witnessed steady growth with soaring healthcare expenditures around the world, despite ongoing industry challenges. The growth is mainly driven by the increasing world population, particularly the aging population, rapid urbanization, and growing demand for the treatment of chronic diseases and comorbidities. Meanwhile, factors including the development of clinical innovations, government support, and better access to medical treatment are also shaping the current trends in the healthcare industry. Despite tremendous growth, there are also many healthcare industry challenges and obstacles coming in 2018.
Before we get into some key healthcare industry challenges on the horizon for 2018, let’s cover what is promising first. The recent healthcare industry overview from the WHO suggests that the global healthcare spending as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to increase from 10.4 % in 2015 to 10.5 % in 2020. Global healthcare expenditures are projected to reach a total $8.7 trillion by 2020, increasing from $7 trillion in 2015, representing a CAGR of 4.3% during the five-year period.
As the global healthcare industry growth continues to be strong and stable, several major issues in the global industry are restraining the further development of this sector. According to the latest survey conducted by the HealthCare Executive Group, clinical and data analytics, population health services organizations, and value-based payments for healthcare are among the top 10 healthcare industry challenges for 2018.
Here are the top 10 healthcare industry challenges and solutions for 2018, identified by leaders from major healthcare industry companies around the world:
1. Clinical and data analytics
Big data and clinical evidence will be increasingly utilized to improve patient outcomes. Pharmaceutical companies offering services that help patients collect, analyze and understand their own health data and health conditions will be the new emphasis on patient engagement, and one of the healthcare industry’s major challenges. Healthcare companies need to be able to identify and meet patients’ needs by establishing a comprehensive and secure database for collecting and analyzing health data and conditions.
2. Population health services organizations
Both government and healthcare industry players need to focus on putting a population health strategy into action and taking a closer look at the social determinants of health. Governments, payers, and providers are increasingly recognizing that, in order to better manage population health and curb rising costs, the sector needs to add social determinants of health and wellness to the care equation.
3. Value-based payments
With the shift away from fee-for-service, healthcare industry companies need to find ways to lower costs and improve quality of care. Value-based payment models have the potential to upend traditional patient care and business models. Building the outcomes-based financial models and data infrastructure to maximize value-based care reimbursement pathways will be increasingly important.
4. Cost transparency
The demand for more transparency in healthcare services and products is coming from both legislation and consumers. Companies should commit to transparency and refrain from frequent price increases in order to help rebuild trust with consumers, physicians, and health insurers, and demonstrate a commitment to cost transparency to legislators. Cost-control is consistently an obstacle to tackle in terms of healthcare industry challenges.
5. Total consumer health
Healthcare now encompasses people’s overall well-being as well as their social and financial environments. Emphasis on value-based care is prompting health organizations to focus on nutrition to prevent costly medical problems and improve the overall health of the populations they serve. Healthcare industry players need to understand the unique diet-related needs of each population. A prime example is the popularity of American whey protein consumption leading to high demand.
Organizations need ways to keep patients’ information safe and secure. According to the latest US government’s Report on Improving Cybersecurity in the Health Care Industry, the task force identified six key imperatives to tackle: define and streamline leadership, governance and expectations for healthcare cybersecurity; improve medical device and health IT security and resilience; develop the necessary healthcare workforce capacity to prioritize and ensure cybersecurity awareness and technical capabilities; increase industry readiness with better cybersecurity awareness and education; identify mechanisms to protect research and development efforts and intellectual property from attacks and exposures; and improve data sharing of industry threats, risks and mitigation.
7. Healthcare reform
As government officials constantly make plans for repealing, replacing or modifying the current healthcare laws, it’s important to have a standardized, consistent approach to compliance in today’s highly regulated global healthcare environment. Organizations of all sizes will need to continue navigating and complying with a highly complex, changing set of global, regional, and industry-specific laws and directives.
8. Harnessing mobile health technology
Digital technologies can be of particular use in improving disease management and data collection. Healthcare industry companies should consider building ecosystems that embrace non-traditional factors and sources of knowledge outside healthcare practices. Companies should also consider building pilots before investing in scale, learn to embrace change, technology, and evaluate new revenue sources.
9. Addressing pharmacy costs
Healthcare industry players seeking strategies to deal with the increasing cost of prescription drugs continues to be one of the industry’s greatest challenges. Companies should commit to being transparent and refrain from frequent price increases in order to help rebuild trust with consumers, physicians, and health insurers, and demonstrate goodwill to legislators.
10. The engaged digital consumer
Health and Safety Assurance Services (HSAs), patient portals and wellness education materials are key to improving patient engagement. Healthcare companies should invest in tools and processes to better understand their target market and customer segments and improve the patient experience to engage more effectively with today’s informed health care consumers.
With continued growth potential, it is expected that 2018 will have a few obstacles and healthcare industry challenges that industry professionals need to face. Which obstacle or challenge do you think will be the most important in 2018?
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