What are the Top Health Care Trends of 2015?

With the new Congress, health care has once again become an issue of debate. Due to this a number of policy debates which will take place in 2015 are likely to be quite symbolic and will result more in simple tweaks to the law. The health care policy however isn’t just a matter which the Congress has to consider. There are a range of issues which will play out in the private sector and the state which will shape the future.

The interoperability revolution within health care in 2015 is likely to bring about renewed pressure on the proprietary systems. While on the one hand the Office of the National Coordinator will push for interoperability to be a core requirement of the Meaningful Use stage 3, other providers will push for API’s (application programming interface) as well as open source tools which developers will be able to make use of to design new applications which will be able to make sense of all types of data and it will turn it into something which can be leveraged by clinicians. Thus such pressure signals indicate that this year could be a turning point for interoperability.

Next is the high cost of specialty drugs which has caused fear to rise throughout the industry. While these drugs have the potential of reducing the health care bill with patients being cured of their chronic illnesses and the avoidance of complications which can cost a great deal, the near term cost is the problem which is difficult to overcome. According to some Medicaid programs, it is estimated that specialty drug treatments could increase budgets by almost 15% which would make them ration out the drug to those patients who are the most sick and need it the most.

Within Congress, it is expected that the Democrats will push for laws which would allow Medicare to engage in price negotiations with drug makers. Republicans on the other hand will advance private sector solutions which includes a streamlined process for the FDA to approve generic specialty drugs or having products compete within the same category in the interest of having markets which are more competitive and healthier.

Attention is also being paid to federal programs which are designed to result in greater care coordination, preventive care, disease management and innovations have begun to take root in states as well. The two factors which are seen to be driving this trend include the strain which is placed on the state budgets especially as they are absorbing the cost of the population which has newly become eligible for Medicaid and secondly, the need for aligning federal programs which push providers towards more accountable and coordinated care.

Thus with the amount of experimentation which is likely to be going on, the year 2015 could be the year where the merits of the concept of the best practices and its diffuse for success in the new model takes place. In the future, it is highly possible and likely that even bundled payments will become a part of the mandatory program in a number of additional states and soon after, at the federal level as well. Additionally, health care data is also likely to become public knowledge and will thus be prone to scrutiny by the people as well.

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