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Robert Miller

Robert Miller

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Although the use of social media is well established in most consumer markets and especially retail and hospitality, the healthcare sector has been slower to adopt this new form of connecting and communicating with their customers.  While the use of social networking sites grew from 5% of adults in 2005 to 50% of adults in 2011, according to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, a more recent Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) survey shows that only about one-third of consumers use social media for health-related matters.


Effective use of social media is yet another challenge for resource-constrained healthcare providers.  Nevertheless, a growing number are recognizing the need to move forward and put the power of social media to work in order to drive revenue growth, cut costs, enhance patient relationships, improve quality of care, and achieve better outcomes.  At last count more than 1,500 hospitals are participating in 6,379 social networking sites, according to Ed Bennett's Found in Cache blog.


In spite of concerns about inaccurate and misleading medical information being broadcast through social channels, patient privacy concerns and potential threats to reputations, providers recognize that "social business" is inevitable and that the benefits outweigh the negatives.  In fact, other than "Stage 2 Meaningful Use" incentives considerations, an increasing number of healthcare organizations are taking steps to become active social media participants and enterprises to mitigate the risks associated with "ignoring" these concerns.

Benefits of Social Media Participation

 

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Other than social media innovators and pioneers such as the Mayo Clinic and Kaiser Permanente, most providers lack the time, expertise and resources to achieve a proactive and participatory approach to social media.  Most healthcare institutions are unable to deal with the "always-on," 2-way, near-real-time world of social media and the constant engagement, monitoring, moderating and content creation efforts required for success. Many are opting to use outside services and external expertise to pursue a more active role in social media.

 

I'd welcome your comments about social media practices in the healthcare industry.  Also, for additional information about social media practices, a copy of the PwC report, and/or ways IntelliQ Health might be able to assist you with your social media initiatives, please contact us at Infohealth@IntelliQresearch.com.

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In spite of recent headlines about skyrocketing insurance premiums, a number of factors are pointing to continued downward pressure on medical costs for 2014.  The latest data from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) show medical spending inflation has slowed appreciably from 11% in 1990 to 3.9% in 2011, and that annual Medicare spending only increased 1.7% per beneficiary between 2010 and 2012, down from 6% per year during the preceding two decades.


Although this continued spending growth slow down will result in additional financial

challenges for healthcare organizations, this development will be welcome news for employers. Price Waterhouse Cooper's (PwC) Health Research Institute (HRI) recently projected a medical cost trend of 6.5% and a net growth rate of 4.5% for 2014, after accounting for certain adjustments like higher deductibles - among the lowest since the government started measuring national health expenditures in the 1960s.


Even with the uncertainties surrounding the full implementation of Obamacare, the HRI does not expect a direct impact on the medical cost trend, citing a number of factors that are expected to deflate medical costs in 2014.  These include:

 

  • A slower than expected economic recovery that will continue to suppress demand for healthcare.
  • Consumers who are taking more responsibility for their healthcare and making more cost conscious choices.
  • A continued shift in care provision from costly hospitals to more cost effective locations such as retail clinics and mobile health.
  • Large employers who are contracting with big-name health systems to secure lower costs for complicated procedures.
  • Growth in high deductible plans among employers.
  • Government actions such as readmission penalties and potential costs savings from Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs).

Source:  PwC Health Research Institute

The HRI cites the growing use of complex, expensive specialty drugs/biologics and healthcare industry consolidation as two risk factors that could drive costs higher.

But, on balance, they are confident that structural and behavioral changes in the industry will mitigate these risks and continue to exert downward pressure on the cost trend.

 

For more information about the 2014 Medical Cost Trend and the implications for employers, payers, providers and pharmaceutical manufacturers, a free copy of the PwC HRI report can be accessed by clicking HERE.

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Recent surveys as well as discussions I have personally had with healthcare industry leaders illustrate that there continues to be a great deal of confusion and lack of awareness about healthcare reform.  From talking with providers, payers and employers I have found that they often lack awareness and are in need of additional information to assist them in framing responses to the specific impacts, challenges, and opportunities associated with healthcare reform.


In addition to the complexities associated with the 6,000 plus pages of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and the Healthcare and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010, we have witnessed the emergence of a new vocabulary, along with acronyms and buzzwords such as Accountable Care Organizations, Episodic Payment Model, Meaningful Use, and Bundled Payment.

 

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As a result, many decision-makers are not familiar with the new and evolving lexicon and lack the clarity needed to respond to the challenges and opportunities associated with the promises of patient-centered care and improved outcomes in our new healthcare environment.


I recently read a Truven Health Analytics white paper, entitled "Vocabulary of Healthcare Reform."  In addition to explaining the new terminology, the paper provides considerable insights and context related to the new vocabulary and reform concepts that may very well provide the critical knowledge you need to formulate your response strategies and initiatives.

 

For more information and/or a free copy of the healthcare reform vocabulary white paper, just send me an email, give me a call at 513-605-3664, or access it by clicking HERE.

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Early last year industry experts anticipated that 2012 would be challenging for the largest global pharmaceutical firms. . . a year of transition as they digested lost revenues due to the patent cliff, and adjusted to growing governmental scrutiny and regulation as well as a poor economic climate.

The pharmaceutical industry, according to First Word's Pharma Outlook Q1 2013 report, will continue to face many of the same challenges during 2013.  Even though the FDA approved 39 new chemical entities during 2012, the highest number in 16 years, overcoming the sizeable revenue declines due to patent expirations and generic competition will be considerable.  Furthermore, an evolving market landscape with new 'generic" competition from biosimilars and a growing demands from payers and providers to demonstrate value, creates additional hurdles.

 

During the next five years, pharmaceutical manufacturers are likely to overcome the patent cliff and other industry challenges with a broad range of new products.

 

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By 2017, 50 products are expected to fuel industry growth and revenues by about $80 billion, with Oncology and Diabetes medications accounting for nearly half of this growth.  Moreover, growth drivers are less likely to be based on revenue size and more on how targeted each product is.

 

These are only a few key insights from the Pharma Outlook Q1 2013 report.  For more detailed data about the key growth driver products and their manufacturers, click HERE to access this insightful report.

 

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According to a recently released Robert Wood Johnson Foundation study, rising premiums have driven a steady decline in employer-sponsored health insurance since 2000.

In 2011, the number of non-elderly Americans with employer-sponsored insurance stood at 159 million, a decline of 11.5 million from 2000 (69.7% in 1999/2000 vs. 59.5% in 2010/2011). According to the report, 47 states had a statistically significant decline in employer-sponsored coverage from 2000-2011, with 22 states experiencing declines of at least 10 percentage points.

 

Employers Offering Coverage, 2010/2011

 

Source:  State Health Access Data Assistance Center, 2013.  "State-Level Trends in Employer-

Sponsored Health Insurance."  SHADAC Report, Minneapolis MN, University of Minnesota.

 

Other key findings:

 

  • While most states saw “significant declines” in employer provided coverage, the range was wide (e.g., New Hampshire with 73.8% coverage vs. New Mexico with 48% coverage).
  • The largest decline occurred in Michigan with a 15.2% drop.
  • As might be expected, higher income populations experienced less of a decline than lower income populations.
  • Annual premiums for single coverage more than doubled while family coverage increased 125%.

For a full copy of this report, click HERE.

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