Meaningful Use Tops Healthcare Industry Challenges for 2011
4. A reduction in consumers seeking healthcare.
During the recession, many consumers delayed or avoided going to the doctor or having procedures they thought they could put off. That trend is exacerbated by higher health insurance premiums, steeper deductibles and larger co-pays, and the increases are not expected to end now.
PwC "forecasts a trickle-down effect, starting with physicians and pharmaceutical companies as consumers reduce office visits and drug spending, followed by reduced sales of other medical products, fewer lab tests, imaging scans an other diagnostics."
5. Mergers and acquisitions of healthcare organizations.
PwC projects strategic mid-market transactions between $100 million and $500 million. It also sees agreements aligning physicians with hospitals, and hospitals with other hospitals and health systems. In an interesting twist, consumers responding to a PwC survey said they are wary of mergers and acquisitions, but are amenable to retail clinic partnerships with hospitals for primary care services and medication prescriptions.
6. "Always on" healthcare
Mobile health and wireless technologies are connecting patients with their doctors and nurses anytime anywhere, the PwC report says. Healthcare organizations " are spending tons of resources to produce online content, yet PwC found that consumers are 3.5 times more likely to go to the media and third-party sources for information about treatments and conditions than anywhere else, and they are especially unlikely to visit a pharmaceutical company site to learn about medication.
The annual PwC report was based in part on a fall survey of 1,00 consumers to get their perspective on a variety of health reform topics, including usage practices and payments. The PwC institute issues periodic reports on perspectives and trends throughout the healthcare industry dealing with issues for providers, pharmaceutical companies, health and life sciences and payers. The full report may be viewed here.
Cheryl Clark is senior quality editor and California correspondent for HealthLeaders Media. She is a member of the Association of Health Care Journalists.
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