Looking ahead: challenges the healthcare industry will face in 2017
Thursday, 12 January 2017
Value-based healthcare. Rising healthcare costs. Talent shortages.
When considering what challenges the healthcare industry will face during 2017, it is consistently these themes which come to mind—providing exceptional care in an effective and efficient way whilst attracting and retaining the best employees.
The impacts of these connected issues continue to extend beyond originally foreseen boundaries as our industry rapidly evolves to ensure we can meet the needs of consumers of our services.
The emerging transition from volume-based to value-based healthcare shifts the funding construct from the number of patients seen or procedures performed to the quality of treatment a patient receives and to their treatment outcome.
This transition should help to moderate expenditure growth in healthcare, whilst simultaneously providing a funding model which benefits the consumer by placing emphasis on meeting high standards of care and the best possible outcomes.
What will this mean for the relationship between the funders (health insurers, governments) and hospital providers of treatment and care? I believe it means our funders are becoming more discerning 'purchasers' of services, less inclined to simply fund providers without significant recourse to safety, quality and patient outcomes as they have in the past.
How will it work? It will mean the costs associated with avoidable complications, or hospital readmissions relating to avoidable complications will not be covered, and therefore be incurred by the provider. It will involve focussing on the performance of providers against key indicators, and is anticipated to ultimately extend to whether or not the anticipated or intended outcome for the patient has been achieved.
This model of funding, in which some payments to providers are deferred until outcomes are reached, is already in place in other countries and is very much an evolving model in the USA.
This requires providers to become more efficient and effective in the delivery of their care. Healthcare providers will need to deliver exceptional, evidence-based and patient-focussed care in order to ensure financial sustainability. This contrasts with the previously widely held but now debunked view that safe high quality care costs more.
All this will take shape in the context of an aging population with growing demand in respect of chronic disease management, and substantial projected workforce shortages in some professions, particularly nursing. As it currently stands, healthcare and social assistance (including aged care providers) has provided the largest contribution to Australia’s job growth in the past decade. More than 1.5 million (or one in eight) workers are employed in the health care and social assistance industry.
How do health care providers effectively respond to these anticipated changes and trends?
At Mater, we’ve worked for the past two years on more closely integrating our health, education and research arms in order to enhance our ability to provide safe, evidence-based services. This approach, along with clinician leadership, will help us to optimise the provision of safe, high quality care and to successfully navigate the challenges our healthcare industry is facing—now and into the foreseeable future. We aim through education to enhance the translation of research findings from the bench or workplace to the bedside, and therefore better meet the needs of our consumers. We are also well placed to train, and then employ emerging healthcare professionals.
Is there more to be done? Of course; we are at the start of a long journey, but one that has a sense of urgency. We must continue to respond positively to change to ensure the sustainability of our Mission now, and into the future, in order to continue to provide compassionate care to those who need it most.
Dr Shane Kelly
Group Chief Executive Officer
Mater Misericordiae Ltd
South East Queensland
Medlita, ‘Top 3 Healthcare Trends That Hospitals Should Anticipate in 2017’
The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Healthcare is a booming industry and Australia is in the box seat’