Prepare your emergency department to face these current healthcare issues and learn how to better plan for the future.
What are the most pressing healthcare issues in emergency medicine?
The PwC Health Research Institute’s latest report highlights many of the challenges facing healthcare organizations today[*]. But it also spotlights the future of healthcare issues in the US and how organizations should prepare to adapt to them.
This resource will help your team understand everything from economic issues in healthcare to artificial intelligence, current healthcare policy issues, and more.
What the Top 5 Healthcare Issues of 2020 May Predict for Your Emergency Medicine Group’s Future
Emergency departments have been dealing with these healthcare issues during 2019, and they show no signs of slowing down:
#1. Increased Partnership Opportunities to Help Grow & Scale Business
Corporate healthcare buyers are now competing with private equity firms (PEF) for bids and acquisitions. PEFs are interested in everything from biotechnology, clinical research, and private practices, and often make good EM partners as they can utilize their expertise to take over financials, manage assets, and let providers focus on patients.
“We’re not in the business of telling doctors how to practice medicine. We’re in the business of taking away roadblocks and making the practice easier and better for providers,” said one private equity managing director in a recent article in Modern Healthcare.
Though private equity firms have always invested in healthcare, they became the new growth accelerator in 2019. Firms hoping to balance investments in risky industries like technology chose the stability found in healthcare. After all, national health spending is expected to rise to 20% of the economy by 2026[*].
Emergency medicine groups may have the chance to partner with a private equity firm to gain more working capital to grow and scale operations. However, partnerships with PEFs go way beyond financing. Their experience in different industries gives them a unique perspective on strategic growth opportunities. You may lower costs, streamline processes, and achieve better outcomes with their help.
#2. More Digital Therapeutics and Connected Care
Investors poured $12.5 billion into digital health ventures in 2017 and 2018[*]. Biopharmaceutical and medical device companies take the lead in new digital therapies and connected health services for patients and providers.
Digital therapeutics use technology to deliver evidence-based therapeutic interventions to patients managing or treating a medical disorder or disease[*].
Digital therapeutics and connected devices must be clinically validated by the FDA and target specific health outcomes, such as diabetes or cardiovascular diseases.
Over 50% of patients surveyed would be somewhat or very likely to try an FDA-approved app or online tool to treat their medical condition[*]. So providers will need to familiarize themselves with the real-time insights gleaned from these devices.
Organizations will need to create processes to seamlessly collect, analyze, and share this patient data. Ideally, Emergency Departments would evaluate their workflows to integrate these electronic medical health records to help improve in-person visits.
#3. Digital Skills Gap for Employees Not Ready for AI or RPA
Virtual health, artificial intelligence (AI), and robotic process automation (RPA) are the future of healthcare. And 38% of surveyors admitted to being extremely concerned about the speed of technological change[*].
The shift to providing care anywhere, anytime, through telehealth continues to move at break-neck speeds. Survey results show 39% of physicians believe virtual health will significantly increase in the next 10 years[*].
This boosts the need for business models that serve patients remotely and conveniently.
This also requires training for employees on the soft skills of using technology in the emergency department and virtual patient etiquette.
But it will take a different skill set to learn how to work with AI and RPA.
- 63% of US health workers say the work they do requires a great deal of manual entry or analysis.
- 20% of workers will rely on artificial intelligence to do their jobs by 2022.
- AI and process automation will eliminate 1.8 million jobs while creating 2.3 million new ones reliant on a more skilled workforce.
Healthcare organizations must identify which employees have to be upskilled or reskilled to use the new technology headed their way. A staggering 75% of US workers are willing to learn new skills or completely retrain to remain employable[*].
Companies that invest in making employees digitally fit create two competitive advantages: A higher-skilled workforce, and a workforce that’s less likely to leave.
Training employees on AI and RPA will get rid of the tedious work on their plates so they can focus on higher-level tasks and spend more time with patients. This could potentially increase job satisfaction in the long run.
Further, machine learning may help develop new care standards based on historical data or determine whether a patient has a specific condition with higher confidence.
AI doesn’t get rid of people in your emergency department — it empowers them to be more productive, unburdened, efficient decision-makers.
#4. Tax Reform and Trade Tensions May Raise Costs
Many for-profit healthcare companies are enjoying lower tax rates on earnings (reduced from 35% to 21% beginning in 2018)[*].
But surveys show how companies spend their tax savings affects the public’s perception of them. A whopping 60% to 72% of respondents would have a positive opinion of a hospital using its tax savings to hire more staff.
Yet almost 40% would have a negative opinion if the same company repurchased shares of its stock from investors with their savings[*].
The global trade environment also complicates healthcare expenses. Escalating trade tensions with China, Mexico, and Canada introduces new tariffs which may increase costs and force a restructuring of manufacturing and supply chains.
The medical device trade group AdvaMed identified $3.5 billion in products affected by a recent round of tariffs from China, adding up to $754 million new annual taxes[*].
Pharmaceutical and medical device sectors are most vulnerable to tariffs. Consumers and providers could wind up eating the higher costs for materials and chemicals. Hospitals could face higher expenses for medical goods or shortages if supply chains face major disruption.
#5. The Affordable Care Act in 2019 — Still a Wildcard
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) remains law despite Republicans reshaping parts of it through legislative, regulatory, budgetary and legal actions.
Healthy individuals and small businesses scored cheaper premiums during 2019 than other ACA years. This made insurance plans more affordable, so you may have noticed a slight boost in self-pay collections.
However, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act reduced the ACA individual mandate penalty to just $0. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that 4 million Americans will drop coverage in 2019 because of the $0 penalty[*]. This will also have the most significant effect on Medicaid in 2019.
Providers need new ways of dealing with individuals with less coverage in their market. Plans to triage patients with lower-cost care options make the best sense for your bottom line.
A well-designed primary care team could help you save $1.2 million per 10,000 patients served annually[*]. All it takes is a few easy swaps, like telehealth visits or pairing patients with the most appropriate clinician (i.e., a nurse, dietitian, mental health specialist, etc.) for their symptoms or issues instead of the highest cost physician.
Turn These Healthcare Problems Into Healthcare Solutions
You can’t protect your emergency medicine group from all the economic issues in healthcare and current healthcare policy issues plaguing the system.
But you can prepare your team to hurdle these challenges facing healthcare organizations today without losing revenue.
Need a professional opinion on how to prepare your emergency department for the future? Our proprietary software and emergency medicine strategies at DuvaSawko allow us to consistently increase practice revenues by up to 30%. Click here for a complimentary practice analysis now!