5 Takeaways from the AHA’s 2018 Environmental Scan

5 Takeaways from the AHA’s 2018 Environmental Scan
Marketing Director

The American Hospital Association (AHA) recently published its 2018 Environmental Scan, which offers some guidance for the nation’s healthcare systems during a time of transformation and uncertainty. From advances in science, technology, and information management to changes in consumer preferences, the healthcare industry is constantly challenged with adapting to a new environment.

Here are the top five takeaways from the AHA report.

Managing Workforce to Support Access to Care

Hospitals, health systems and healthcare organizations recognize that access to healthcare for individuals is key to managing population health across the nation. While the Affordable Care Act has helped 20.5 million people gain health insurance since 2010, healthcare organizations are facing workforce shortages that can impede their ability to serve patients and provide access to care for all.

With the imminent nursing shortages projected through 2022, the report offers some strategies for addressing this issue. The Nurse Licensure Compact, which allows nurses to practice in both their home state and other compact states, can help facilitate telenursing.

But nursing is not the only healthcare profession facing challenges. The Association of American Medical Colleges estimates that the nation faces a shortage of between 40,800 and 104,900 physicians by 2030. Combined with the prevalence of physician burnout, healthcare organizations need to develop strategies to attract and retain physicians as well.

Pursuing Opportunities in High-Value Care

Healthcare transformation and value-based care models focusing on populations can improve the quality of care at a lower cost. The financial incentives in the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act will accelerate the transition to alternative payment models in both the public and private sectors.

Value-based care is the way of the future, with most healthcare organizations already underway with the transition to this healthcare model. Sixty-five percent of CEOs view shared-risk models as an opportunity, according to a 2017 report by HealthLeaders Media.

Beyond payment models, there are other opportunities in new approaches to healthcare. More than half (55%) of hospital executives consider it very likely that by 2022 their hospital will have achieved improvements in value metrics through telemedicine and virtual healthcare solutions, according to a Health Strategy & Market Development report.

Helping Patients Become Partners in Care

In recent years, the healthcare industry has made significant strides in patient engagement, which has been linked to improving overall care. As the patient grows to expect a digital healthcare experience, healthcare organizations are responding by embedding technology into care delivery and focusing on protecting patient information.

With the rise of consumerism, health plans and providers both will be increasingly responsible for providing the education, information and tools that patients need to take ownership of their health. By 2021, most hospital executives expect patients in their hospitals will demand a greater role in the planning of their treatment.

Improving Well-Being and Prevention

With the healthcare system evolving outside of hospitals, the community is playing a larger role in an effort to manage and prevent chronic disease and improve the well-being of patients and the community. By managing and preventing chronic diseases, which account for most of the nation’s healthcare spending, there is ample opportunity to reduce costs.

By 2021, 47% of hospital executives believe most insured patients will belong to health plans that pay beneficiaries for meeting certain health targets, such as healthy blood pressure. “To succeed in providing holistic care for individuals, we must increase our efforts to meet patients where they are and make it simpler and more convenient for them to become and stay healthy,” states Howard R. Grant, M.D., J.D., in the Futurescan 2017-2022: Healthcare Trends and Implications report.

Making Care Coordination Seamless

Better care coordination will organize patient care activities and information in an efficient and effective manner to achieve safe care with better outcomes. Teams, technology, data and innovation will spur the advancement of care coordination throughout the continuum of the delivery system.

By 2022, 51% of hospital executives think it very likely that their hospital will implement secure, HIPAA-enabled cloud technology to promote collaboration and information sharing across the organization and among providers, regardless of location (Futurescan 2017-2022: Healthcare Trends and Implications report). Embracing technology and collaborating across the continuum of care can help healthcare organizations improve patient care while streamlining care coordination.  

AHA President and CEO Rick Pollack offers a few words of encouragement for healthcare organizations managing change. “We have the opportunity to shape our future to fulfill our vision of a society of healthy communities where all individuals reach their highest potential for health,” he states in the 2018 Environmental Scan.

How is your healthcare organization preparing for the changing healthcare environment? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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