While the healthcare industry continues to expand and remains one of the country’s top providers of jobs across many different careers, it also faces a variety of tough challenges the rest of this year and beyond.
Healthcare – a $5 trillion industry – faces issues that other, more-nimble areas of the economy do not have to handle. For instance, government regulations that are in flux with a new administration in the White House. Also, emerging technologies have challenged old ways of providing medical care, forcing medical operations to adapt to changes in how they do business.
In a recent report, the Health Research Institute at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) ran down the biggest challenges facing healthcare in 2017. The following takes a look at some of the main issues found in the report.
The Future of ACA
President Donald Trump made repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act a central part of his campaign for the White House. While he has already experienced roadblocks in achieving that goal, he has publicly remained committed to getting it down, calling the ACA – popularly known as Obamacare (after President Barack Obama) – a “disaster” for both the insured and the insurance companies.
A second attempt to repeal and replace the ACA is making its way through congress. It seemed to hit a major roadblock this week when several Republican senators said they would not support the bill.
It remains unclear how the potential changes could affect the insured in the area they are most concerned with: insurance premiums. The PwC report found that 69 percent of those surveyed listed “cost of my monthly premium” as the top issue under any type of healthcare reform, ahead of “coverage of services and medication” (66 percent) and “doctors and hospitals in the network” (56 percent).
New technologies have already proven disruptive to a number of industries, including the media, Hollywood, television and retail. Healthcare has been slower to adopt technology, according to PwC, but “2017 is the year to prepare for the eventual arrival of these technologies.” Many of them will disrupt long-functioning business models, from day-to-day operations to cybersecurity for patient records.
Because of a federal mandate under former President Barack Obama, 90 percent of hospitals now have electronic healthcare records. However, sharing the information to provide better medical service and improve patient outcomes is an ongoing process.
Nutrition For Prevention
Obesity and poor eating habits have been an issue in healthcare for years, as good nutrition leads to better health and helps prevent many diseases. Many healthcare providers are now taking on the challenge of using better nutrition to cut down on medical costs for patients.
And healthcare needs to lead the way, according to the PwC report. Asked what source they would most likely take nutritional advice from, the overwhelming choice was a doctor (79 percent), followed by a pharmacist (59 percent), an athletic trainer (41 percent), a coworker or HR rep (39 percent) and grocery store (28 percent).
These are just three areas where the healthcare industry faces challenges. As with all issues in this industry, financial considerations must go hand-in-hand with improved patient care, which is the top priority for every hospital and physician.
But the coming changes also could open up new careers in healthcare, particularly in health informatics and nutrition.