We expect continued turbulence across healthcare delivery in 2018, driven by policy uncertainty at the top and continued pressure for affordability and quality care from employers, consumers, and payers. Prodded by MACRA and commercial payers, the use of care models that incorporate accountability for cost and quality is slowly expanding. As our Healthcare Delivery Outlook infographic illustrates, 2018 will be about the search for a more sustainable model through changes in roles and relationships. Hospitals, systems and IDNs, as buyers, sellers and partners, will engage in new and different ways with CMS, payers, consumers, employers, pharma and device suppliers, physicians, retail clinics and post-acute care.

Delivery organizations will look to make up for shrinking reimbursement by reducing vendor pools, consolidating volumes, and requiring discounts, risk sharing, and other concessions from pharma and device suppliers. The high cost of specialty drugs will continue to be a sporadic headline issue, settled case-by-case absent a draconian policy solution, which is not likely.

The growing burden of deductibles and copays will slowly reshape non-emergent healthcare purchases to look more like other consumer transactions. Public demands for transparency in pricing and quality will stimulate development of tools to facilitate comparison shopping. Meanwhile, employers will engage in more direct contracting, while payers seek joint ventures with delivery, especially around ACOs. Payers will also pursue more risk-based reimbursement arrangements.

Growing emphasis on total cost of care will drive integration across the care continuum by contracting organizations. Acute care providers will continue to evolve their strategies to make care more accessible and appropriate through retail and urgent care clinics, telehealth services, centralized scheduling with physicians, and coordination with post-acute care providers. Consolidated delivery organizations will focus on sharing data, standardizing processes and aligning incentives. Consolidation among acute care providers and acquisition of physician practices will continue.

Given this outlook, what’s next?  We recommend these key action steps:

At Numerof & Associates, we support healthcare delivery organizations in achieving these key action steps for success in today’s evolving healthcare landscape. From competitive strategy to implementation of new payment and delivery models, we have solutions. Read more about our perspectives and solutions for healthcare delivery and see our case studies.

Need critical insights across the healthcare sector? Check out our 2018 outlook infographics for pharmaceuticalsmedical devices and diagnostics, and payers.