PwC report discusses what's next for healthcare industry

NEW YORK — The healthcare industry could see an “extreme makeover” next year, according to a new report by PwC.

The research firm’s "Top Health Industry Issues of 2011" report, based on a nationwide survey of 1,000 adults in the United States, identified six major issues facing health organizations:

  1. Record spending on health information technology will drive demand for skilled professionals in this area, increased roles for chief information officers and industry consolidation.

  2. Insurers adapting to new medical loss ratios are expected to make “significant” changes to benefit plan design and pricing, and despite the recent court ruling on the individual mandate, states will still have to develop health insurance exchanges.

  3. Shifts in focus from fee-for-service to measurements of performance, outcomes and savings in accountable care organizations will create new opportunities and risks.

  4. Cost shifting may have reached its limit, and decreased utilization by price-sensitive consumers may create a trickle-down effect among health organizations, starting with physicians and drug companies as consumers reduce doctor visits and spending on drugs, followed by reduced sales of other products and fewer diagnostics.

  5. Health organizations may seek to share administrative burdens and information technology investments, gain market share and fill strategic gaps through increased merger and acquisition activity.

  6. Drug companies may see more opportunities to increase their visibility to consumers, influence health outcomes and reduce costs, and the use of mobile health and wireless technologies by health organizations is expected to continue increasing.

“Health organizations are placing their bets on the future direction of health care and making decisions that will position their businesses for competitive advantage,” said Daniel Garrett, PwC principal of health industries technology practice. “Some organizations will undergo an extreme makeover while others will stay the course or refine existing strategies. Whichever path they take, all health organizations will be under pressure to deliver greater value for less, and they will face new risks and realities as business models and market players emerge.”