Health care’s future
A medical economist says many predictions about the future course of health care in the U.S. are wrong because they assume previous industry trends will continue.
“Health care will change more in this decade than it did in the past 50 years,” Jeff Bauer, a self-proclaimed health futurist, told participants in the Virginia Health Care Conference in Richmond.
Bauer, a former vice president for health care forecasting and strategy for ACS, a company owned by Xerox, faults the Affordable Care Act for making too many assumptions based on the past. For example, the health-care reform law assumed that health care costs would reach 20 percent of the national gross domestic product by this year. Instead, costs stand at about 17 percent of GDP.
Likewise, he said the ACA tries to impose a one-size-fits all solution instead of recognizing that the nation’s best health-care programs are remarkably diverse.
Bauer does not deny that the U.S. health care needs to change. U.S. health care was last in a ranking of 34 countries by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and 39th in another survey by the World Health Organization.
The medical economist said the drivers of change will include:
• a movement away from fee-for-service to provider payments based on patient outcomes,
• a revolution in biosciences that will shift the practice of medicine from acute care treatments to disease management,
• the emergence of personalized medicine as a replacement for the one-size-fits-all approach,
• the use of patient-centered teams as a best-practices model,
• mobility of information through electronic medical records and telemedicine, which will vastly expand the sites where health care can be delivered, and
• the identification and elimination of wasteful health-care spending, with that money being reallocated to better uses.
The Virginia Chamber of Commerce has presented the health-care conference for the past five years. About 500 people registered for this year's event.