It’s already time for the three-month March Healthcare Classic recap, where we evaluate how the top four trends are impacting the industry thus far. This year’s Classic boasted some intense competition, but the trends that ultimately landed a spot in the finals were: Cost Cutting Strategies (4), Primary Care Transformation (4), Affordability (2), and Cybersecurity (6). Keep reading to discover the advancements in these trends and the industry’s response to them.

2023 Champion: Cost Cutting Strategies (4) 

Our 2023 Champion–Cost Cutting Strategies (4)–has remained at the forefront of conversations. It’s no secret that the pandemic created immense financial strain on hospital systems and the healthcare industry as a whole. Last year, 52 hospitals and health systems completed layoffs in an effort to combat economic challenges. Unfortunately, this trend doesn’t show signs of slowing down. Becker’s reported layoffs from 69 hospitals and health systems that have occurred in the last year or are scheduled to take place later in 2023. Beyond staffing cuts, organizations are also eliminating departments and services. 

However, Cost Cutting Strategies aren’t just limited to hospitals and health systems. According to Morgan Stanley at Work’s State of the Workplace Study 2023, employers are also cutting back their benefit offerings. While the report doesn’t detail specific benefits that are being cut, it’s likely that health coverage is being impacted as well. 

Top Two Trend: Primary Care Transformation (4)

Primary Care Transformation (4) was a new trend this year but garnered significant attention from the Selection Committee. In just a few months, this trend has made a sizeable impact on the industry. In June, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) announced a new primary care pilot that will expand access to value-based care. Noting the importance of primary care in improving health outcomes, the goal of the new model is to support small and rural organizations. Through this initiative, CMS intends for more organizations to enter into value-based care agreements. 

Additionally, retail organizations continue to execute against primary care strategies. For example, Walmart Health recently announced plans to expand its footprint by adding four new health clinics in Oklahoma by the end of 2024. The announcement follows the retail giant’s existing plans for 2024, which include deepening its presence in Texas as well as establishing clinics in Missouri and Arizona. By the end of next year, Walmart will have 75 health clinics.

In June, Humana announced a significant milestone as it opened its 250th primary care center. Signaling substantial growth in the provider space, the insurance giant intends to open between 30 and 50 centers each year through the end of 2025. Promoting transformation, all of these initiatives are driving patient-centered care and increasing access to primary care. 

Top Four Trend: Affordability (2) 

The subject of Affordability (2) has been a longstanding topic of conversation within the healthcare industry and for good reason. In May, a new report from the Federal Reserve detailed how cost-prohibitive healthcare is for many Americans. According to the study, 28% of adult Americans did not seek care in 2022 due to cost

On the other hand, many organizations are taking measures to relieve the financial burden of care. For example, Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) are using data and analytics to improve health outcomes and reduce healthcare spending. In a recent article by Health IT Analytics, two ACO experts detail the importance of using multiple data and analytics tools, creating actionable data, and developing a comprehensive infrastructure. Actionable data helps to eliminate unnecessary procedures, improve processes, and ultimately reduce spending. 

Additionally, other organizations are at the forefront of innovation for healthcare affordability. In April, Kaiser Permanente and Geisinger announced the launch of a new organization called Risant Health. Health systems can join Risant Health’s network and expand access to value-based care within the communities they serve. Organizations that join the network will gain access to expertise, support, and resources. The newly formed nonprofit plans to acquire other like-minded organizations with a mission to expand access to high-quality and affordable care. 

Top Four Trend: Cybersecurity (6) 

As cyber-attacks and hackers become more sophisticated, Cybersecurity (6) within the healthcare industry has gained a lot of attention. A recent Forbes article outlines that the healthcare industry is trailing behind other industries in terms of infrastructure for cybersecurity. This is because the majority of funds go to expensive medical equipment, operations, procedures, etc. Healthcare organizations possess high-value data, making them more attractive to hackers who seek higher ransom payments. Thus, a security breach is the costliest for the healthcare industry, highlighting the need for better cybersecurity solutions. 

Just this week, Nashville-based HCA Healthcare, reported a data breach that affected over 11 million patients. Personal patient data–including names, contact information, appointment dates, and more–was shared online by an unauthorized party. Currently, a formal investigation is underway to reveal additional information. The incident is one of the largest healthcare data breaches reported. 

Considering this issue, some organizations are sharing expertise to help minimize the effects of cybersecurity attacks. In May, a nonprofit organization called MITRE published a policy checklist for healthcare cybersecurity. The checklist is a 17-step report that helps protect patient safety in the event of a breach. Additionally, the checklist includes cyber frameworks and helpful training links for policymakers and providers. 

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) also published new resources to combat the rise of cyber-attacks in the healthcare sector. The resources include cybersecurity trainings, a publication that highlights risks and best practices, and a report that details current cybersecurity preparedness. While the healthcare industry still has a lot of progress to be made in addressing cybersecurity concerns, sharing information to bolster cybersecurity defenses and safeguard patient data is the first step toward a more secure future. 

Stay tuned for future posts and insights on the blog as well as LinkedIn