The Trends That Keep On Trending

Donna Kerney Correia, PhDHealthcare Industry

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One of the biggest buzz phrases today is “trending now”. We see it on search engine sites like Yahoo!. And social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook.  Nearly every industry from fashion to cars to music to housing to electronics has something trending. And every year, these same platforms and industry followers publish endless lists of what to watch as trends for the coming year.  The healthcare space is no different.

The top trends…

Trends to watch in the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries tend to cover a range of topics like marketing, drug development, patient-centric initiatives, big data analytics, insurance benefit designs, drug pricing, consolidation, and on and on. There is no shortage of material.  But if you are one who reads these lists every year, you may feel that sometimes it seems as though the same trends are listed year after year.  One could acknowledge that in a space as large as healthcare, the trends could span years, whereas in fashion the trend may be more of a short-lived fad.  Nevertheless, with all the talk about how much healthcare has changed and is changing – it is interesting to think that despite all the change, we, as an industry keep talking about the same things.

It is 2018…

So, a quick look at some commonly reported trends in health care for 2018 include patient-centric initiatives, alternative contracting and discussions about greater transparency.  A search revealed the following common threads:

Affordable Care Act debate
Value-based contracting; drug pricing transparency
Use of technology and artificial intelligence
HDHPs still common
More cost cutting by payers
Opioids and mental health
Mergers and acquisitions continue

12 years earlier…

In 2006, PricewaterhouseCoopers published a report, Top Seven Health Industry Trends in’07. In an interview with Hindy Shaman, the director of the health research institute at the company conducted by United Press International about the report, a few very familiar trends were noted.

States taking initiatives
Call for more transparency in cost and quality for services
Importance of health information technology/digital transformation
Consumer-driven health care plans
Growth in generic competition for branded pharmaceuticals
Growth in investment in small biotech to drive innovation

The 2006 report concluded with the following, Whether we stand on the inside of the health industry looking out, or outside looking in, we all agree — the current state isn’t sustainable and major change is required.”  Sound familiar????

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