"The Future of Healthcare: Major Headlines, Innovations, and Legislative Advances"

Ben H.

Ben H.

Sep 28, 20235 min read

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"The Future of Healthcare: Major Headlines, Innovations, and Legislative Advances"

Introduction:

In August 2023, the healthcare industry witnessed several groundbreaking developments that have the potential to shape the future of healthcare. From breakthroughs in obesity treatment to disruptive changes in the pharmacy benefit management (PBM) landscape, these headlines highlight the ongoing transformations in healthcare delivery. Additionally, legislative advances have paved the way for improved access to care and investments in healthcare workforce shortages. This article will delve into the key highlights, innovations, and legislative changes, providing insights into the future of healthcare.

1. Obesity Breakthrough:

One of the most significant headlines in August 2023 was the landmark trial that showcased Novo's obesity drug, Wegovy, as a game-changer in cardiovascular risk reduction. The trial revealed a 20% decrease in cardiovascular risk among patients. This breakthrough holds immense implications, particularly for senior populations, as it opens the door to wider coverage access for patients. The integration of innovative pharmaceuticals in the treatment of obesity marks a promising shift in healthcare.

2. PBM Disruption:

A major disruption occurred in the pharmacy benefit management landscape as Blue Shield of CA announced its intention to replace CVS with an 'unbundled' consortium of vendors. This move involves engaging Amazon Pharmacy for at-home drug delivery, Mark Cuban Cost Plus Drugs for benefit design and medication access, Prime Therapeutics, and Abarca for other drug benefit functions. While CVS retains the specialty drug book of business, this shift signifies a significant change in the traditional PBM model. The industry is witnessing a shift towards more diverse and specialized vendors.

3. MSSP Results:

The Medicare Shared Savings Program (MSSP) achieved remarkable savings, amounting to $1.8 billion in 2022. This achievement marked the sixth consecutive year of overall savings. Interestingly, low-revenue Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) composed of physicians serving rural areas outperformed high-revenue ACOs in terms of net savings per capita. These results highlight the potential of physician-led ACOs in achieving cost efficiencies and driving positive outcomes in underserved regions.

4. Amazon's Entry into Healthcare:

Amazon's foray into healthcare continued with the launch of two new services, HealthScribe and HealthImaging, through Amazon Web Services (AWS). HealthScribe is a HIPAA-eligible service that empowers healthcare software providers to build their own generative AI documentation and other solutions. With HealthImaging, Amazon aims to support the storage, analysis, and sharing of massive amounts of medical imaging data. These services demonstrate Amazon's commitment to revolutionizing healthcare through innovative technologies and infrastructure support.

5. Expansion of Amazon Clinic:

Amazon Clinic expanded its services nationwide, offering a platform that connects patients with telehealth providers for low-acuity conditions. This move demonstrates Amazon's commitment to improving access to healthcare services, particularly for patients in remote or underserved areas. By leveraging telehealth, Amazon Clinic aims to bridge the gap in healthcare accessibility and provide convenient, cost-effective care options.

6. Cano Health's Struggles:

Cano Health, a Medicare Advantage-focused senior clinic care platform, faced significant challenges in the past year. With a medical loss ratio of 103.5%, the company struggled to maintain profitability and fulfill its financial obligations. Cano Health's journey serves as a cautionary tale for healthcare companies seeking to go public at inflated valuations. It emphasizes the importance of sustainable business models and prudent financial management.

7. Medicare Advantage Trends:

The Medicare Advantage landscape witnessed notable trends, including a significant increase in enrollees, with 51% now on Medicare Advantage plans. UnitedHealthcare and Humana emerged as the dominant players, accounting for half of all Medicare Advantage enrollees. These trends highlight the growing popularity of Medicare Advantage plans and the need for innovative partnerships to meet the evolving demands of beneficiaries.

8. Co-branded Medicare Advantage Plans:

Kroger and Intermountain's Select Health collaborated to introduce a co-branded Medicare Advantage plan. This plan will be offered in Colorado, Idaho, Nevada, and Utah, expanding healthcare options for Medicare beneficiaries in these regions. Co-branded plans leverage the strengths of multiple organizations to deliver comprehensive and tailored healthcare services. Such partnerships have the potential to drive better outcomes and improve patient satisfaction.

9. Legislative Advances:

The Senate panel advanced a bill that aims to limit hospital facility fees and address healthcare workforce shortages. While the legislation drew criticism from the hospital sector, it includes provisions that bar facility fees for telehealth and evaluation and management services outside hospital settings. The bill also provides funding for community centers, the National Health Service Corps, Teaching Health Center Graduate Medical Education programs, nurse education at community colleges, and primary care doctor training. These legislative advances signify a commitment to improving access to care and investing in the healthcare workforce.

Actionable Advice:

  • 1. Embrace Innovations: Healthcare providers should stay updated with the latest breakthroughs in pharmaceuticals and healthcare technologies. By embracing innovations like generative AI and telehealth, providers can enhance patient care, improve outcomes, and increase operational efficiencies.
  • 2. Foster Collaborations: Partnerships and collaborations among healthcare organizations can lead to improved access to care, enhanced services, and better patient experiences. Exploring co-branded plans and strategic alliances can help healthcare providers reach more patients and deliver comprehensive, patient-centered care.
  • 3. Advocate for Legislative Changes: Healthcare professionals should actively engage in advocacy efforts to shape healthcare policies. By supporting legislation that promotes affordability, access, and quality care, providers can contribute to a more sustainable and patient-centric healthcare system.

Conclusion:

The healthcare industry is experiencing rapid transformations driven by breakthrough innovations, disruptive changes, and legislative advances. From obesity treatment breakthroughs to the expansion of telehealth services, these developments hold immense potential for improving patient outcomes and expanding access to care. By embracing innovation, fostering collaborations, and advocating for legislative changes, healthcare providers can navigate the evolving landscape and drive positive change in the future of healthcare.

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