It feels like the first ball was just tipped, but we have already narrowed the field of 64 of the hottest healthcare trends to a final eight! Take a look into our latest meeting with the Selection Committee to read their commentary and learn more about the selections. Check out the Round of 8 bracket here.  

General Trends Region

Reflecting on the General Trends region, the Selection Committee focused heavily on (14) Workforce Challenges, which received 4 out of 5 votes against (6) Patient Experience in Round 2 and continued its dominance with a 5-0 beatdown of (10) Provider Engagement in the Round of 16. One Committee Member shared, “January and February were the most difficult months operating wise. Our misses to our budget were 90% labor-related. It’s labor-related on two fronts. First, cost [has been] astronomical. For a long time, we’ve been pointing at everything from a comparison standpoint back to 2019, thinking that one day we’ll get back to pre-covid operations. We’ve abandoned that; we just don’t think that’s the right way to look at things. Second, is the markets in which we operate. It’s capacity. It’s not that we didn’t have beds, we didn’t have staff.” Another Committee Member agreed with that sentiment, “We are right there with you and felt the same thing in January and February. That trend has gained more momentum in my eyes.” 

While another Committee Member had a slightly different perspective within the industry, the same viewpoint was shared. “We haven’t had as much turnover within our company itself, but it impacts all of our clients. We serve a lot of hospitals and health systems and their Clinically Integrated Network partners. So meeting capacity [and] meeting the ability to actually provide services is where we are seeing a level of concern. It’s an upset because we want patient experience to be what we focus on, but it’s so hard to do that when folks aren’t able to staff up appropriately.” 

Our final Committee Member shared, “This could be a catalyst to get the traditional delivery system to be a little bit more aligned with our focus on value-based care. Now, costs are so high that with any admission, the hospital is losing money.” With the pandemic impacting so much of the industry and organizations’ focus, (14) Workforce Challenges will definitely be a trend to watch in the next few rounds. 

“This could be a catalyst to get the traditional delivery system to be a little bit more aligned with our focus on value-based care.”

Another strong contender emerged from the General Trends region in Round 2. (1) Private Equity Funding landed a spot in the Round of 16, eliminating Partner 5-0. (1) Private Equity Funding moved forward to the Round of 8, securing 4 out of 5 votes from the Selection Committee in the Round of 16, setting up a showdown with (14) Workforce Challenges in the next round.

Care Delivery Region

Taking a look at the Care Delivery region, our first Committee Member shared, “This region is a little bit premature. Most of the concepts are very much so in their early days. Behavioral Health is a big talking point, but not something that is seeing a lot of transformation. A lot of these trends are the buzzword trends that haven’t matured enough.”

Analyzing the matchup between Behavioral Health and Advanced Primary Care in Round 2, another Committee Member agreed with this viewpoint. “I feel like Behavioral health would have won the whole thing a year or two ago. That was all the discussion, but there hasn’t been a focus in fundamentally changing either the delivery, capacity or access [related to] behavioral health. I think that’s why they got beat out by Advanced Primary Care.” 

“There hasn’t been a focus in fundamentally changing either the delivery, capacity or access [related to] behavioral health.”

Sharing more insight into the (1) Advanced Primary Care trend, our final Committee Member stated, “I think that term is a bad one. The regular primary care doctors do not think that what they do is basic or elementary. We’ve definitely seen a backlash to that. The branding is very important.” In the end, (1) Advanced Primary Care had a narrow win in Round 2, receiving 3 votes from the Selection Committee. Securing another close victory, (1) Advanced Primary Care received 3 votes from the Committee Members in the Round of 16 bracket. 

(14) Omnichannel Care was another trend that secured a spot in the Round of 8. In Round 2, (14) Omnichannel Care secured a narrow win against (11) Digital Care with a 3-2 vote from the Selection Committee. Receiving more support in the Round of 16, (14) Omnichannel Care landed 4 votes as it went up against (7) Physician Employment. How will it fare as it competes against (1) Advanced Primary Care in the next round? 

Business Model Innovation Region

In the Business Model Innovation Region, powerhouse (1) Medicare Advantage faced off against (8) Direct to Employer in Round 2. One Committee Member shared, “I think of Direct to Employer as being the administrative partnership, more on the self-insured route where you don’t have to have the insurance license.” While (8) Direct to Employer received a unanimous vote in Round 1, its dance came to an end Round 2, with 4 votes going to (1) Medicare Advantage. (1) Medicare Advantage then defeated (13) Population Risk in the Round of 16 and looks a real threat for a deep Classic run. 

As (3) Payviders and (15) RBEs faced off in the Round of 16, our Selection Committee was divided. One Committee Member shared, “Payviders, to me, is the hottest trend. Traditional multi-hospital delivery systems are finding insurers to partner with of any type. The only way you’re going to get doctors to learn value-based care is to have a culture change, and most doctors in a managed care setting are already doing that. Some kind of collaboration – that’s where the action is.” Another Committee Member agreed saying, “If you define Payvider more broadly, then it’s definitely a trend. I think Payvider is a way to be a risk-bearing entity.” 

Payviders, to me, is the hottest trend.”

In contrast, another Committee Member argued, “How many hospitals have the internal capabilities to pull off a payvider arrangement? You don’t have to build the infrastructure or deal with messy admin items to be an RBE.” In a closing statement, one Committee Member said, “RBE is too broad to mean anything. A Payvider is an RBE.” In the end, the 2021 Classic runner-up (3) Payviders hit a buzzer beater and took the “W” over (15) RBEs. How will it fare against (1) Medicare Advantage in the next round? 

Data & Technology Region

The Data & Technology matchups had the most divided viewpoints from our Selection Committee. As (1) Platform and (12) Population Health Analytics competed in the Round of 16, one Committee Member said, “Platform is a generic structure that allows population health analytics companies to work.”

Sharing a different perspective, another Committee Member said, “I took the interpretation of platform a little bit differently. I was thinking about it from a consumer perspective. Looking at the Amazon model or the Apple model, it’s all about the platform and the consumer.” Going off of the previous statement, a Committee Member shared, “We view it even broader – not just the consumer, but the user. It’s the operator – that platform. It’s the physician – that platform. It doesn’t make sense on a deployment of capital perspective to rip and replace everything that we have. We have to think about something that creates one user experience.” Ultimately, (1) Platform took the win with a 4-1 vote from the Selection Committee. 

(11) Remote Patient Monitoring and (7) Interoperability was our final matchup in the Round of 16. One Committee Member shared, “There is a ton of interoperability. But I always go to why? To what end? The nice thing about remote patient monitoring is that you have a business case there, a use. You need interoperability to support remote patient monitoring. It has an end-game and something that you are trying to do.” (11) Remote Patient Monitoring secured the majority of votes, landing a spot in the Round of 8. 

“The nice thing about remote patient monitoring is that you have a business case there, a use.”

This sets up some compelling matchups in the Round of 8. (1) Private Equity Funding vs. (14) Workforce Challenges. (1) Advanced Primary Care vs. (14) Omnichannel Care. (1) Medicare Advantage vs. (3) Payviders. And (1) Platform vs. (11) Remote Patient Monitoring. These powerhouse trends will shape the future of the industry we all know and love. 

Which trends surprised you with their performance? Are there any trends that should have remained in the competition, and are there any trends that should have been cut sooner? Join the conversation over on LinkedIn

This is commentary from our 2022 March Healthcare Classic. Explore this year’s interactive bracket to see the most impactful healthcare trends face off.