4 causes for optimism in healthcare

Despite ongoing regulatory and reimbursement challenges within the healthcare industry, several features of the current landscape are cause for cautious optimism, argues an article in Hospitals & Health Networks.

Jeff Goldsmith, Ph.D., president of Health Futures Inc. and an associate professor at the University of Virginia, runs down several positive developments within healthcare, including:

Increased focus on value of care: Providers, payers and policymakers all see eye-to-eye on the necessity of value rather than just cost within healthcare, giving them a single point to unify around. "We may not get all the way to population health management in this round of payment changes," Goldsmith writes, "but new benefit designs and better transparency of clinical quality measures will finally help to create a market for the high-value provider that has not heretofore existed." A value-based approach could improve hospital performance by as much as 30 percent, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Better hospital-physician relations: Although this is harder to quantify, Goldsmith writes, collaboration between hospital management and medical communities is on the upswing, based on his personal experience. Although there is still work to be done, he says both sides of the "historic divide" are increasingly putting hospital services first.

Stable healthcare costs: Although the United States spends more per capita than 10 other industrialized Western nations, healthcare costs have grown less than 4 percent annually since 2008, Goldsmith writes, a five-decade low. Moreover, the Congressional Budget Office projects 2016 per capita Medicare spending will be almost 30 percent lower than its 2006 projections.

Lower mortality rates for acute illnesses: Heart disease is the number one cause of death for men and women in the United States, but age-adjusted mortality is down 34 percent since 2000, Goldsmith writes. Meanwhile, cancer mortality rates dropped 17 percent over the same period, and stroke mortality fell by nearly 40 percent.

Despite the good news, there are several factors that, should they occur, would disrupt and undo some of the progress, Goldsmith writes, such as a healthcare worker shortage, new or resurgent infectious diseases, or an economic downturn.

To learn more:
- read the article

Suggested Articles

The profit margins and management of Community Health Group raise questions about oversight of managed care insurers.

Financial experts are warning practices about the pitfalls of promoting medical credit cards to their patients.

A proposed rule issued by HHS on Tuesday would expand short-term coverage, a move Seema Verma said will have "virtually no impact" on ACA premiums.