by Megan Headley
Healthcare has faced its share of disruption over the last few years and that shows no signs of slowing down. Aaron Mauck, senior director of the Advisory Board Co., a healthcare strategy consultant who was until recently based in Boston, predicts that 2020 will bring more consideration around making the shifts seen in the past few years work more effectively.
Mauck, who was a keynote speaker at several of the regional 2019 Hospital Outpatient Facilities & Medical Office Buildings Summits, managed by Corporate Realty, Design & Management Institute (SquareFootge.net), offers three trends to watch in the year ahead.
Strengthening Relationships Within Integrated Systems
New England, like many regions nationwide, has seen a significant amount of market consolidation in recent years. As systems learn to leverage these new economies of scale to reach customers, many are also still working to integrate cultures. “Integration is not always easy,” Mauck points out. “There are culture challenges, but also challenges around getting the true value out of the economies of scale that are created through that integration.”
At this point, Mauck says, most hospitals in New England, including a lot of the smaller community hospitals, are now affiliated or directly partnered. That is going to offer many advantages, but there’s still some work that needs to be done to get there. “There’s still a lot of room to improve on those relationships and create a truly integrated network in those systems,” Mauck says.
Improving Access to Care
Health systems serving rural areas in particular are seeking to better foster access for patients. “People have been talking about remote care for 20 years, but last year was the first year where we started to see direct reimbursement from CMS around certain elements of remote care,” Mauck says. “It’s a strong signal of where the government wants to go.”
While telehealth remains an important strategy, there’s also growing exploration in new technology to support at-home care and care at a distance. Mauck says more New England health systems are turning physicians’ offices into spoke care sites where specialists can interface with patients. This will allow more rural patients to get specialized care near home, rather than traveling to larger hubs.
New Funding for Specialty Practitioners
Mauck predicts we’ll see more private equity supporting independent practitioners in direct care delivery. In areas such as orthopedics and women’s health, where CMS coverage changes are encouraging those practices to move out of the hospital and into ambulatory settings, Mauck is seeing more groups of single specialty group practitioners who are often supported in the development of their businesses by private equity. He anticipates this becoming a significant trend in the next two years.
Improving Upon Healthcare Needs
Overall, expect in 2020 to build upon the dramatic shifts in care delivery seen in recent years. Healthcare providers with new partners, new direction and new funding sources will be ready to implement fresh solutions for improving access to care.
Strategies for managing these and other trends will be the focus of the New England Hospital Outpatient Facilities & Medical Office Buildings Summit, taking place April 22 in Boston. For more information, visit www.squarefootage.net.