ICYMI: Trending Healthcare Topics for August 2016

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Dan D’Orazio
President
Sage Growth Partners

An overview of the changes, trends, and newsmakers from the past month

Tough times for ACA, bright futures for integration, and rising costs: August brought with it some high-impact stories. Here’s what caught our eye this month—what’s on your mind?

Healthcare economics and data

  • EpiPen needs a shot: Mylan, the manufacturer of the popular and lifesaving EpiPen, is under fire for price hikes of more than 500 percent. While they have given ground by releasing a generic version, the controversy is making more consumers question the forces behind escalating drug costs.
  • The increasing cost of HIT: MGMA’s Cost and Revenue Report for 2016 shows that HIT costs have increased by 40 percent since the HITECH Act took effect in 2009—the current spending breaks down to roughly $32,500 per physician.

Integrating care

  • Where’s your practice’s focus? As value-based models gain more and more traction, one thing is becoming clear: keeping the patient as the focus of your practice is more important that ever before. Health Affairs published a great guide to making sure you are operating a people-focused practice.
  • A new solution to the interoperability challenge? The Office of the National Coordinator issued a challenge to industry leaders to find the best uses of blockchain technology in healthcare. Blockchain, an innovative methodology for conducting transactions, has to potential to revolutionize the way data is exchanged, analyzed, and used.
  • Incentivizing integrated care: While the concepts and benefits of integrated care can be made clear in theory, there are still some providers who are leery of the burdens of implementing it in practice. To drive adoption, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Ohio is beginning to provide rewards for providers who receive their Integrated Care Certification.

ACA and policy

  • Pressure forces policy changes: Following pressure from payers, the Obama administration has made some reforms to the legislation, including added protection for payers against high-cost enrollees.
  • ACA stability shaken: As insurers leave states’ ACA marketplaces, more than 2 million people will have to change plans for 2017, putting intense pressure on regulators to stabilize the system quickly.
  • Clinton pushes for better mental health care: It’s no secret that mental health care lags behind the innovations and resources that physical healthcare receives. Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton hopes to change that, as outlined by a new list of policy proposals aimed at improving mental health care.
  • Succeeding under MACRA: While CMS reviews the comments received from stakeholders across the industry about MACRA, considering what steps to take when the final plan is released is a good idea—besides, it never hurts to find effective means to improve performance.