What's coming for healthcare in 2019? Health system executives weigh in

From drug pricing battles to megamergers and new players disrupting the industry, 2018 has been a wild ride for healthcare. What's next in healthcare for 2019? It's anyone's guess.

So FierceHealthcare checked in with some health system executives from across the country to look into their crystal balls about what they see coming.

Here's what they had to say. 

Marschall Runge (Michigan Medicine)

Marschall S. Runge, M.D., Ph.D., CEO of Michigan Medicine

One change he predicts for the industry in 2019: There will be significant decreases in drug pricing, and pharmaceutical companies will be among the first to participate. Beyond that, it will be a political cage fight. So many intermediaries exist between pharmaceutical companies and a patient that influence the ability to cut drug prices. If logic were to prevail, reduction in price by pharmaceutical companies would result in lower expenditures by patients.

One change he predicts for Michigan Medicine: Healthcare providers suffering from burnout are less effective, less efficient and more prone to medical errors and reduced quality of care. This is a front-burner issue for us. We are completely committed to an effort to reduce administrative demands and the time/stress these place on our care providers. It is not an exaggeration to say that this is at a level where we must disrupt the current dynamics that have led to our physicians spending 25% or more of their time on administrative issues—from use of electronic health records to frequent accreditation and competency demands to the dependence on rapid-fire emails/texts/patient portals. 

Bernard Tyson
(Kaiser Permanente)

Bernard Tyson, chairman and CEO of Kaiser Permanente

His prediction for the industry in 2019: I expect healthcare organizations will move beyond the traditional boundaries of healthcare to consider everything that might affect the health of Americans to deliver better health outcomes.

His prediction for Kaiser in 2019: In 2019, Kaiser Permanente is continuing to take bold actions to shift to the whole ecosystem of total health and improve the health of our members and communities. Our commitments focus on issues such as mental health and wellness, affordable housing and homelessness, access to healthy foods, neighborhood safety and education. We must continue to innovate to help Americans live longer, healthier lives.

Jaewon Ryu, M.D., interim president and CEO of Geisinger Health System

Jaewon Ryu (Geisinger)

​​​​​​One change he predicts for the industry: I think we’ll see a stronger focus across the industry on managing the total health of populations. At Geisinger, we’re calling this the year of “democratizing health,” because as an industry, we are focused on how we can deliver greater value, in particular for growing segments like Medicare and Medicaid, but really across all segments. I think it’s a race for who can bring top-notch health to the masses faster.   And that’s a good thing. It’s going to make us all better.

One change he predicts for his organization in 2019: At Geisinger, we are going back to go forward, in some ways. By that I mean that we are getting back to the basics with some ideas that are not new—house calls, fresh food, more time with patients—healthcare the way it used to be. That’s why we created our Geisinger at Home program, which takes a multidisciplinary team of caregivers out to the homes of the sickest 5% of our patients. For these folks who may have a tough time getting to the care they need, we are bringing the care to them. This has resulted in dramatically improved quality and reduced costs. It’s good for the patient and it’s good for us. But going back to basics also means focusing on the total patient (call it “social medicine”) with aspects of health that have not traditionally been the focus of healthcare providers and payers. That includes food, shelter and transportation.

Nemours Children's Health System
Lawrence Moss, M.D.
(Nemours Children's Health

Lawrence Moss, M.D., CEO of Nemours Children's Health System

One change he predicts for the industry: I will offer the perspective from Nemours, an organization committed to leading change in children’s healthcare. Nemours believes that 2019 will bring in an era of enhanced cooperation and partnership between institutions providing children’s healthcare and the United States government, particularly around Medicaid. The government has sent meaningful positive signals that it is time to get serious about creating a healthcare system that is structured and financed to create health rather than merely treat disease. This represents the most exciting opportunity children’s healthcare has seen in decades, and I believe we will respond.

One change he predicts for Nemours in 2019: Nemours is deeply committed to leading the transformation in children’s healthcare from a sickness care system to a healthcare system. We will respond strongly and collaboratively to partner with our largest payer, the federal government, and with our commercial payer colleagues to build a system that will move toward creating the healthiest generation of children our nation has seen.

Kenneth Samet (MedStar)

Kenneth A. Samet, president and CEO of MedStar Health

One change he predicts for the industry: I believe the impact of disruptive forces—advances in technology combined with more actionable and readily available information—will significantly affect the pace of change required from legacy healthcare providers. The gap between those that advance and those that fall behind will become more evident.