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Trends from A to W

Consultants share thoughts on what’s happening and what’s coming.
September 25, 2014

Outpatient care is up, inpatient down, primary care is up, specialists are trending down.  Here’s what three consultants had to say about trends at the State of Reform Conference Wednesday.

Aquisitions: Karl Rebay, director at Moss Adams, described consolidation moving at “hyper-speed although nobody uses the word ‘mergers’ anymore” with affiliations driven by geography and strategy.  

Doc in box: ZoomCare and other retail care with an “off the grid strategy” have venture capital money available from Wall Street and Silicon Valley, said Martin Moll, partner at AKT, with hospitals reacting to the new competition with urgent care offerings.

Doctor shortage:  By 2025, primary care will be short 140,000-150,000 physicians, says Moss Adams’ Rebay. Internal medicine and pediatrics will be the shortest with an oversupply in general surgery, Moll said. Even though the US is No. 1 in spending GDP on healthcare, the US ranks 26 out of 27 Western counties in doctor compensation.

Emergency room visits: Up because “more folks have coverage, and are less afraid of using the emergency room. They want a place to go,” said Rebay.  

Law: Rachel Ream, who practices regulatory compliance at Garvey Schubert Barer, said that even though new laws encourage collaboration among providers, old anti-trust and privacy laws make coordination and even sharing medical records at times difficult.

Wellness Programs:  Bring labor and management together and talk early and often, said Caroline Whalen, chief administrative officer for King County where annual healthcare spending was on a trajectory of rising 13.5 percent annually and fell to about 4 percent due to making “the healthy choice the easy choice.”  Employees were educated to make smart choices with their physicians through Choosing Wisely and using cost calculators to make more granular decisions. Weight Watchers at Work helped Whalen herself lose 40 pounds.

Jan can be reached at [email protected].