Shaping the Future

Bob Wertz, December 1, 2016

Setting a solid healthcare business strategy is much easier if you have a good sense of what lies ahead for the industry.

This article first appeared in the December 2016 issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

Next month, the nation will have a Republican president, Senate, and House of Representatives, and after nearly seven years on the books, the future of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act appears to be short; but what comes next is uncertain.

Candidate Donald J. Trump declared that he would see to it that the law is repealed and replaced. President-elect Trump is softening that message somewhat and promising that key elements of the law will be preserved.

Details remain elusive. But healthcare leaders have been here before; after Barack Obama was elected in 2008, the nation and the industry realized that a new approach to healthcare was likely. And despite a common goal that healthcare should be about serving the patient, individuals differ in the best way to achieve that goal.

The healthcare industry is hardly monolithic. In September and October of 2008—before the election—HealthLeaders Media surveyed healthcare leaders, asking which model offers the best hope for healthcare. The results revealed no dominant response. Consumer-directed healthcare was the top response, with 33.6%; next was government-mandated universal health insurance at 25.1%, followed by government-funded universal healthcare at 21.9%, then employer-sponsored healthcare at 9.9%, and other at 9.5%.

In September 2011, some 18 months after PPACA was enacted, we again surveyed healthcare leaders and again found division: 53% said they supported PPACA and 47% said they did not; 41% said the law should be repealed and 59% said it should not be repealed. Still, 75% said that some elements of PPACA should be repealed.

Two years later, in October 2013, we asked leaders to assess the current state of the healthcare industry, and the results were hardly encouraging: 31% right track, 39% wrong track, and 31% undecided.

There is division. But division need not lead to conflict.

The path ahead will remain unsettled for some time, and that makes for a more challenging period for healthcare leaders. But forward-thinking people can work together for a common goal and a common good. In healthcare, which certainly is a complex industry, the ultimate aim—the health and wellness of the patient—is a simple concept.

Industry leaders need to help shape the future by reaching out to their elected representatives to stress what elements should or should not be a part of national healthcare law, and the aim should be to develop a sustainable model that won't be subject to the next election.

Bob Wertz

Bob Wertz is editorial director for HealthLeaders Media. He may be contacted at bwertz@healthleadersmedia.com.

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