1. Focus on patient safety
Hospitals will dedicate themselves to preventing medical errors and improving patient safety at all levels of the organization. Wireless will be an enabler – helping to merge and deliver information to avoid errors.
2. Electronic medical records arrive
Electronic medical records will become a reality. Transportable “e-records” will help to support higher quality care, while protecting patient privacy and cutting costs. Cell phones will become the “key” and only communication device we will need.
3. Cost containment
As healthcare costs continue to increase, driven by medical inflation and volume growth, policymakers will consider limits on reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals as well as technologies to reduce costs in the long term. Administrators will again be asked to do “more with less.”
4. Pay for performance
Incentives to reward physicians and hospitals for quality care and improved outcomes will take hold. Modeled after the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ voluntary quality-indicator reporting system, similar “pay for performance” incentives will help improve the quality of patient care.
5. Information technology gets respect
As information technology is recognized as a vital part of hospital operations, consuming a higher percentage of the organization’s budget, IT management will become an integral part of the clinical management process and member of the management team.
6. Consolidation of insurers
Insurers will continue to consolidate creating additional leverage in contract negotiations. Similar to company pension plans, our health insurance will become defined contribution not defined benefit. 401K-style health plans arrive.
7. Nurse staffing
Following California’s legislation that sets mandatory staffing levels in reaction to nursing shortages, more states will consider similar legislation, prompting a deep fissure within the industry over whether such laws are necessary or harmful to staff and patients. The laws themselves will cause more shortages.
8. Healthcare professional shortage
As demand outpaces supply, the industry will increase compensation and develop pro-active recruitment programs to help promote healthcare careers at higher education institutions.
9. Here come the baby boomers!
The aging “baby boom” generation presents a major public policy concern for long-term care due to its size and anticipated use of resources, as well as boomers’ “high maintenance” reputation compared to their predecessors.
10. The uninsured
The large uninsured and underinsured population will continue to present the system with a grave dilemma. Due to economic pressures the many working poor and young workers in their 20s will choose to be uninsured