PwC survey reveals the top health industry trends of 2014

The Affordable Care Act isn't the only major concern facing the healthcare industry in 2014. PwC's Health Research Institute's Top Health Industry Issues for 2014 report reveals the upcoming year will force hospitals and health systems to become more retail-focused as they respond to consumer demand for greater price transparency and cost savings.

"While health insurance exchange implementation is driving headlines today--in reality the next 12 months will be marked by how well the industry addresses a range of core business challenges," said Kelly Barnes, PwC's U.S. health industries leader, in the report announcement. "Businesses must address rapid innovation and competition from non-traditional players, but above all they must respond to empowered consumers as customer-centric transformation sweeps healthcare."

Price transparency leads the list of top business concerns facing the healthcare industry as patients--now responsible for a larger portion of health costs--demand more information about the actual prices of care and treatment, according to the report. "Right now everyone's talking about price point and premium costs," Ceci Connolly, managing director for the institute, told the Wall Street Journal's MarketWatch blog. "But what that's really going to transition into is what value am I getting for my dollar?" she said.

But as patients try to gain a greater control of their spending, hospitals and health systems must compete for a piece of the healthcare dollar, the report said. The race to get new patients and keep existing ones, coupled with pressure to reduce costs, will force organizations to strike new alliances and "diversify their brands" to gain an edge over the competition, according to the announcement.

Other top issues identified in the report include a greater push by large employers to use private exchanges to provide healthcare benefits to workers; leaner healthcare innovation models; a movement to use social, mobile, analytics and cloud technologies together to improve the practice of medicine and care coordination; and a redefined healthcare job market that uses technology to engage digitally with patients.

To learn more:
- here's the announcement
- check out the report
- read the WSJ MarketWatch blog

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