In a recent report, Guidehouse consultants bookmarked five trends for healthcare executives to watch, coupled with action items to stay nimble in the 2019 healthcare environment.
Here are the takeaways:
Growth by consolidation doesn't automatically deliver savings. Instead, providers should focus on "discipline" to improve operating margins. The report names executive compensation, too many layers of management, clinical variation and technology spend as areas for more discipline.
Medicare Advantage enrollment is exploding, and this growth is expected to continue. Guidehouse advises providers to look for MA collaborations with commercial payers and other provider-sponsored plans that have MA experience, among others.
Private equity has entered the space as a major competitor to hospitals seeking to acquire physician groups. Meanwhile, many hospitals that have acquired physician groups are still working out how to integrate those practices successfully into their systems. Guidehouse advises hospitals to revisit these acquisitions and make changes as needed in terms of staffing, leadership and compensation structures to ensure it is aligned with the system's strategy.
Revenue cycle continues to be a major pain point within EHRs. Guidehouse expects voice recognition technology and AI to help transform the EHR and reduce RCM issues.
Rural hospitals are at risk of closing, and this situation could worsen if the economy takes a downturn. In addition to advocacy efforts, Guidehouse advises rural hospitals to strengthen telehealth programs with nearby tertiary medical centers and academic medical centers to prepare for the future.