Let’s take a look at the Purchasers region in the 2023 March Healthcare Classic. 

Healthcare is intimidating and confusing, even for society’s most assertive and competent members. This situation is made worse by the convoluted purchasing agreements between payers, employers and providers, which dramatically impact patients while excluding them from the conversation. Given currently available resources, patients cannot be expected to learn enough to be able to advocate for themselves; the system is entirely too complicated. Perhaps more than any other region, the Purchasers region highlights the various trends that contribute to the industry’s twisted knots – and serve as the starting points to untangle them.

Watch the tournament unfold weekly on our LinkedIn page, where you can join the discussion too!

The Eight Trends and the First Four Matchups

Top seed in this region is Direct Contracting, which has significant momentum among large employers and notable innovation in solutions for small employers too. In Round 1, Direct Contracting faces Employer Coalitions, which are taking on a more active role, advocating on both the local and national levels. This tournament newcomer enters as a number eight seed.

Affordability returns to the tournament for a third year, repeating its seeding placement from 2022 at number two. Although it lost in a first round upset to Convenience last year, that this trend has made it into all three tournaments speaks to its importance as a healthcare influencer. In a fascinating rematch, Affordability again takes on Convenience, which won this rivalry in the first round in 2022 but fell to Provider Engagement in the second round. Patients have become used to convenience in many areas of life, but pandemic-era pressures may jeopardize the relevance of this seventh seed player.  

Consumerism is the third seed in this region and references the rising consumer expectations surrounding the quality and convenience of the patient healthcare experience. This trend will meet sixth seed and tournament mainstay Price Transparency, a trend that comes back for a third appearance. It was knocked out in the first round in 2021 and again in an upset to Remote Patient Monitoring in the second round in 2022. But its potential as an agent of change is still high, which is why it’s back for this year’s tourney as a number six seed. 

Pharmacy and Drug Spending is a first timer to the tournament, coming in as a number four seed. Long vilified for extreme costs, the pharmacy market is ripe for disruption, and indeed, disruptors like Mark Cuban Cost Plus and Walmart are already staking claims in this area in the push to drive down the cost of drugs. It takes on number five seed Condition-Specific Solutions, which tie reimbursements to outcomes for certain conditions like MSK, maternity and cancer and are expected to grow in an expanding value-based care environment.

Read about the trends in the other three regions: Healthcare Economy, Clinical & Business Model, Digital Tools & Technology.

What trends do you think are leading the pack? 

Join the conversation on LinkedIn and make your predictions by March 8.

This is commentary from our 2023 March Healthcare Classic. Explore this year’s interactive bracket to see the most impactful healthcare trends face off.