2018 Healthcare Trends: Impacts On Military Beneficiaries
January 19, 2018
As we begin 2018, we take a look at the past few years to predict some of
the trends we might see in the health care environment this year.
In 2016, health care comprised 17.9 percent of the nation's GDP (up from
17.7 percent in 2015). Consumers continue to bear more of the costs of
their care, which are passed on to them from their employers. According
to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. households
/nance a little over 28 percent of the costs of health care and the rise in
these costs increased an average of 4.3 percent in 2016 over the prior
year. (A continued good-news story for military bene/ciaries is that the
percentage of health care costs in DoD's budget has remained stable or
even decreased.) Controlling costs will continue to be important, and
organizations and health plans will manage this in a variety of ways.
Here are four trend areas that will shape health care in 2018:
Greater emphasis and reliance on technology: The use of various
technologies will become even more pronounced as they become
essential enablers in the expansion of access to care. The electronic
health record (EHR) systems are proliferating in all practice environments.
This will facilitate large amounts of health care data, “big data,” to be
aggregated for better patient management and population health
management and will enable tracking of care of individuals and groups.
With DoD and the VA agreeing to use the same EHR, called Genesis, they
now will be able to track servicemembers health outcomes longitudinally
The use of mobile technologies will expand rapidly. Both providers and
consumers continue to /nd new uses for digital health technology, such
as /tness trackers, heart monitors, diabetic sugar monitors, and
smartphone applications. Clinical research supports that consumers can
experience better outcomes when they can track results and are better
informed about health.
Collaboration and convergence of different health care industry sectors and players: Companies and organizations within the industry are discovering they alone cannot address large challenges such as cost containment, the opioid crisis, medical crises arising from natural disasters, etcetera. These challenges are best addressed by forming collaborative partnerships, alliances, and, sometimes, large mergers and acquisitions. Eliminating redundancies, improving return on capital, and providing efficient services for consumers are key objectives. For example, consider what industry dynamics will change because of the recent merger of CVS Pharmacy and the large health care insurer Aetna.
Continued shift from volume to value: The goal in health care continues to be value over the volume of care. New models are being used and tested to provide better clinical outcomes for patients. There are increasing incentives under these new models; providers take on more risk, and with more risk and better outcomes come potentially higher payments. Couple the trend of value-based payments with improved clinical outcome transparency to others (competitors), and you could have some real game changers. DoD, in partnership with TRICARE contractors, has a few value-based pilot projects, and MOAA intends to follow these closely.
Rise of the consumer in health care: The market for health care will continue to become more competitive, which gives rise to the need for organizations, providers, and health plans to improve the patient experience. Again, mergers such as CVS and Aetna will have a great chance at this by establishing a more retail convenience experience for customers. This aspect has grown in importance, as consumers have more access to and choice of health care than ever before. Making appointments and communicating with providers is becoming more commonplace through online and mobile platforms, including TRICARE Online and RelayHealth for military beneficiaries. All generations are using these mechanisms, and communication and education through these platforms is essential.
Organizations and health systems already are competing for patients and are learning patients are educated and knowledgeable. What patients value - and MOAA surveys confirm - is easy access, a pleasant experience, and quality health care at a price that reflects their service and sacrifice to the nation.