Healthcare spending in 2013 grew at the slowest rate since 1960, according to a recent article in Modern Healthcare. According to federal data, the nation spent $2.9 trillion on healthcare last year, which was an increase of 3.6% from the prior year—and the weakest spending growth since 1960. Reasons cited for the slowdown include aftermath from the Great Recession, changes in health benefits, and federal healthcare spending rollbacks triggered by the Affordable Care Act. For example, Medicare spending increased in 2013 by 3.4%, down from 4% growth in 2012. Spending on technology and construction to upgrade or expand healthcare services dropped during the recession and still has not rebounded. Most analysts don’t expect this growth slowdown to carry into 2014, although quarterly national estimates for 2014 suggest spending growth below 4%. While some of the slowdown in healthcare spending growth may be attributed to doctors and other healthcare professionals running more efficient practices, health spending in 2013 still consumed 17.4% of the US gross domestic product.
Dan Drawbaugh is CIO of University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), a $10 billion nonprofit health care provider with 55,000 employees and a 2-million-member insurance company. Among 5 “underrated” health IT trends Drawbaugh is watching are systems for healthcare reform and risk management. Other areas to watch according to Drawbaugh include big-data analytics, which according to an InformationWeek Healthcare study, only 15% of healthcare providers have implemented. Drawbaugh also expects to see more joint IT product development by healthcare providers, technology convergence, and more technology aimed at patients for home monitoring. Read more.
An aging population in China combined with a growing middle class will affect U.S. imports of U.S. made medical devices according to Michael Taylor, Senior Director of International Affairs and Trade at the Washington-based Society of the Plastics Industry. With China and Asia becoming a huge market for global healthcare-related companies, Mark Bonifacio, owner of Bonifacio Consulting Services, says Original Equipment Manufacturers are setting up design centers in Asia to be closer to their customers. According to Len Czuba, principal of Czuba Enterprises, for medical devices entering the market, the trend is moving towards mobile devices, he says, “Healthcare is moving away from hospitals and into home environments and devices are shifting towards ability to be used by non-doctors.”
Almost everyone will be affected by the Affordable Care Act in one way or another. For many, it will mean an abundance of new patients because as of Jan. 1, 2014, twenty-two states and the District of Columbia expanded access to Medicaid to children and adults with individual or family incomes less than 133% of the federal poverty levels. Additionally, Jan. 1st means the beginning of Stage 2 requirements of the CMS meaningful use program for EHRs. February 28 is also the reporting deadline for physicians to submit performance data that qualifies for a bonus through the Physician Quality Reporting System. To see more important dates and deadlines for physicians and healthcare providers, see Medscape’s slideshow (login required).