Healthcare Management: The Top Strategies You’ll See In 2018

From employee engagement to artificial intelligence, find out how healthcare business strategy will change this year.

Ted, Founder and Managing Partner at ClearPoint, has over 25 years of experience working with organizations to improve their performance management and strategy execution processes.

Policy changes and technological advancements have changed the healthcare horizon drastically in the past 10 years. Through our blog, we try to highlight the latest trends in managing healthcare business strategy to help you stay up to date. Over the last year, we have:

This year, we reached out to healthcare experts and compiled five healthcare business strategy trends expected in 2018, which are listed below. (Compare them to the 2017 trends from a year ago to see how things have changed.)

5 Healthcare Business Strategies You'll See In 2018

1. Healthcare organizations will need to address declining employee engagement.

“As healthcare systems and hospitals are faced with increasing pressures to find operating efficiencies, traditional cost-cutting methodologies are producing diminishing returns. Yet, the current healthcare funding mechanisms are not sustainable. Multiple assessments indicate that employee engagement continues at low levels. Even though salary, wages, and benefits are often the largest cost sector in healthcare, few organizations have succeeded in significantly improving employee engagement to realize optimal productivity, efficiency, and cost savings. Unsustainable funding mechanisms will require healthcare leaders to turn to more scientific and methodical approaches to understanding why leadership, procedural and cultural variables create disengagement among employees.”

Rod Brace, Ph.D.
Regional President and Chief Learning Officer, Memorial Hermann Health System

2. Pharmacy benefit managers may look at alternative avenues of business and methods of data collection.

“I think that the focus of PBMs [pharmacy benefit managers] should become more diversified as prescription drugs are not the only aspect of healthcare that the healthcare industry relies on. To avoid being overtaken by a large and technologically adept company such as Amazon, PBMs should look into new avenues of business within the healthcare sector as a whole, such as data protection schemes in public and private hospitals and easier ways to record and collect patient data.

If they can’t do enough to protect the cost of prescription drugs and other forms of medication for the general public, I think that leveraging their long-standing position in the sector with new and more cost-effective ways to collect patient data and keep it safe can serve to justify their role in healthcare (as they’re coming under scrutiny for being ineffective at the sole responsibility that they have).”

Caleb Backe
Health and Wellness Expert, Maple Holistics

3. Tech companies will play a more influential role in healthcare.

“I think that we’ll likely see tech companies playing more of an influential role in healthcare, as technology and innovation can greatly aid in reducing the cost of ‘universal income’ for people regardless of their income. The idea of the ‘home as hospital’ is one that I think will prove to be valuable in the coming years, as this greatly reduces the burden placed on the state in terms of financing hospitals and staff as well as preventing the outbreak of antibiotic resistant superbugs etc., while allowing private companies to compete in terms of providing these services, ultimately bringing costs down.”

Caleb Backe
Health and Wellness Expert, Maple Holistics

4. Healthcare providers will monitor KPIs around Medicare and MACRA.

“The key performance indicators (KPIs) that are coming into focus this year are those tied to the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015 (MACRA). Providers may participate in either the Merit-Based Incentive Payment System (MIPS) or in an Alternative Payment Model (APM). Participants in an APM must utilize quality measures comparable to those in MIPS. Thus, the MIPS quality measures are widely relevant KPIs. While MIPS has combined measures from previous programs, it has made those measures more important than ever before by amplifying their potential impact on Medicare incentive payments and penalties. While providers were allowed to avoid penalties by simply reporting something for some period of 2017, the leniency which providers have been given will be steadily decreased from 2018 forward. Given that the MIPS reporting deadline for 2017 is March 31st, 2018, there are likely many providers that are still working on submitting data from their first performance period.”

Adam C. Powell, Ph.D.
President, Payer+Provider Syndicate

5. Healthcare organizations will continue to utilize artificial intelligence.

“A growing business trend in healthcare is the use of artificial intelligence to meet business objectives. AI-enabling technologies such as machine learning and robotic process automation will be used to automate administrative routine tasks and gain greater insight into the patient workflows.”

Anthony Macciola
Chief Innovation Officer, ABBYY

7 Healthcare Business Strategy Predictions From 2017

1. Healthcare organizations will produce better outcomes through efficiency.

“Based upon my experience, I believe healthcare, in general, will be working more towards producing better outcomes. The new strategy will be to work more efficiently. This means providing doctors with incentives to heal their patients faster. Primarily, this is based upon Medicare rules. There are pros and cons to this. It can encourage doctors to work more efficiently, which is a huge benefit to everyone. But sometimes it is difficult to measure certain things accurately. For example, certain conditions may require significant amounts of treatment in order to be resolved appropriately. Also, some patients may have chronic conditions that are more complicated and difficult to treat. Some patients may get re-injured or experience relapses that require special attention. Treating them repeatedly can make the doctor appear inefficient, however, he/she may be doing his best to address the condition at hand.”

Dr. Bruce Pinker
Board Certified Podiatrist, Progressive Foot Care

2. Doctors will focus more on patient education.

“Doctors will educate their patients more often about their conditions to help them understand why they have a new diagnosis, or why they have a new condition that needs to be addressed (either medically or surgically). This will increase efficiency all around as it will help patients become more pro-active. It can reduce hospital stays and minimize healthcare costs. Too many patients, especially diabetics, will deny that they actually have a condition that needs to be addressed. For diabetics, we call this ‘Denial-betes.’”

Dr. Bruce Pinker
Board Certified Podiatrist, Progressive Foot Care

3. Providers and health plans will collaborate to bridge the gap between patients.

“As technology continues to disrupt the status quo in healthcare, we know that ultimately, clear person-to-person communication is a critical lifeblood of the industry -- and it’s also an area where health care falls short. There is an opportunity for healthcare practitioners, administrators, vendors, etc. to all work together to provide patients with a seamless journey throughout the continuum of care. In 2017, we’ll see these groups working better together to provide patients with important information like healthcare costs and transparency regarding billing and treatment needs. We can learn from industries like retail and hospitality to fix prices and operate with much more transparency.”

Torben Nielsen
Senior Vice President Of Product & Strategy, HealthSparq

4. Healthcare organizations will see an increased progression toward online scheduling.

“Healthcare rarely makes changes fast, but we are accelerating towards an on-demand world. Measuring these efficiencies and generating value from online [scheduling] continues to scale up and more consumers look to do it. I still expect the ecosystem to remain fragmented as individual practices and software providers implement the functionality. I expect this to increasingly be a selling point for practices especially, and availability a central and increasing part of their inbound marketing strategies.”

Ted Chan
Founder & CEO, CareDash.com

5. Pricing and share of wallet will increase.

“Get those spreadsheets and calculators out again. I expect changes kicking off in 2017 that will push towards cost management and changes in payments. This means practices, hospitals, insurers, pharma, suppliers, etc will once again be fighting for elbow room, and share of wallet and we may see an uptick in performance-based contracts moving forward. Value and quality based metrics will especially matter for healthcare providers. Some of these include readmission rates, savings/gains/risk arrangements from performance based contracts (either as service provider or client), and expense/profitability per episode of care (relative to quality). Overall, being prepared, gathering KPIs and cost metrics, making tactical business changes in preparation will be important in 2017.”

Ted Chan
Founder & CEO, CareDash.com

6. Being able to access accurate medical information at the right place and time will be increasingly critical.

“Doctors and medical practitioners increasingly value having accurate medical information available at the right place and at the right time. This growing necessity for available, accessible and accurate medical information are in large part responsible for the trend of moving medical records and images to the cloud. This trend will continue to gain momentum because cloud storage and workflow solutions can also help to reduce practice costs, simplify record management, and even make personal health information (PHI) more secure through enhanced backup and other safeguards. Reporting and medical image management are more efficient when doctors can access records any time, any place. With up-to-the-minute data at their fingertips, doctors can free up time to work more productively, increase patient satisfaction, and generate more referrals. Overall, the move towards storing more information in the cloud with solutions that offer simplified workflow is one of the smartest business strategies any medical practice can pursue to boost operational gains and comply with privacy standards.”

Chuck Perry
MD & Chief Medical Officer, UltraLinq Healthcare Solutions

7. IT security and data privacy will become more important.

“In 2016, healthcare experienced record levels of data breaches, rising incidents of ransomware, and an increase in the targeting of HIPAA business associates. IoT (Internet of Things) devices have increased the vulnerability of the connected health ecosystem to cyberattacks and data breaches. Consumer data company Experian has predicted that healthcare will be a top target for cyberattacks in 2017, and more than 90% of healthcare industry lawyers predict that healthcare is at greater risk of data breaches than other sectors. Healthcare will spend more on IT security in 2017 than ever before, and chief information security officers (CISO) will reign supreme.”

Paddy Padmanabhan (As Quoted On CIO.com)
CEO, Damo Consulting Inc.

Are you prepared to monitor progress on your healthcare business strategy in 2018?

The best way to determine whether or not you’re on target with your goals is to monitor the right key performance indicators (KPIs). To give you a leg up in this area, we’ve compiled a list of 108 healthcare metrics. Download the simple, organized Excel list today and make it your own!

Healthcare Management: The Top Strategies You’ll See In 2018