Companies preparing to launch their health business ventures under the Trump administration's policies have met a state of flux around insurance and regulations.
But this is nothing new for businesses to grapple with, according to Mike Strazzella, a federal government healthcare attorney at Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, PC. Our healthcare system has been in a state of flux for the past eight years, Strazzella said, with former president Barack Obama's commitment to reshaping the healthcare delivery system with the Affordable Care Act.
Back in the early 2000s, healthcare providers such as hospitals would put together five-year strategic plans. Now, the field changes so rapidly that they can only build one- to three-year plans, Strazzella said.
However, technology advances faster than the government can keep up, Strazzella said. "While the industry will have an appetite for more, entrepreneurs have to be ready for slow public sector progress, which is always a frustration," he said. "I think we're going to see the FDA implement processes and regulations to spark greater competition, whether that's a generic medication or a device."
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Strazzella recommends businesses stay in touch with the latest trends within the industry, and build relationships with customers to gain a better understanding of their needs. He also advises business leaders to keep up with the happenings in Washington, DC, as much innovation in healthcare is driven by government regulation.
"We're still in flux," Strazzella said. "As long as people continue to think outside the box, and try and shape the policy debate around the delivery of healthcare, it will without a doubt trickle down to new ideas and concepts to try and help make health more effective."
Here are five predictions from Strazzella on the future of healthcare technology.
1. Advances in data mining and record keeping
"I think we're going to find that there will be a much stronger need for data mining and record keeping by a lot of people along all providers that touch the delivery system," Strazzella said. That includes information on a patient's income, Medicaid, and citizenship eligibility. "We're going to see more requirements put on places within the delivery system, and checks and balances of whether somebody should be receiving the type of insurance they're receiving, or if they're better suited for another option," Strazzella said.
2. Tailoring the health plan to the patient
"We're starting to see health plans gear people toward the right type of insurance for that person," Strazzella said. "We're starting to see them looking toward tech companies with that information, and how to parcel it out, and either gear future products that are the right fit for people based on that information, or try to help the patient move toward an existing product."
3. Moving to a fee-for-service system
Strazzella predicts that we will move toward a fee-for-service, value-based outcomes system in US healthcare, based on how successful a provider is at treating a patient. That might mean testing a medication to see if it works in three days instead of six days, for example. "It's going to require more metrics as we move to this, so there is going to be high demand on the IT side of things, and higher levels of competition," Strazzella said.
4. Electronic health records that talk to each other
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is going to transition away from investing in electronic health record infrastructure, Strazzella said. Instead, meaningful use will be more about the interoperability of these systems. "We'll see systems that are user-friendly and will minimize time spent interacting with EHRs versus patients," Strazzella said.
5. Rise of telehealth
"Telehealth is starting to get its deserved recognition for how it can help save on costs to the healthcare system and patients in terms of hard dollars, time, and accessibility," Strazzella said. The field is growing in terms of care for patients in neurology, behavioral health, dermatology, and remote monitoring of chronic conditions. "As those tech advances advance, we can see those services can be removed from face to face encounters, and will progress a lot faster," he said.
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Alison DeNisco Rayome is a Staff Writer for TechRepublic. She covers CXO, cybersecurity, and the convergence of tech and the workplace.