As we close off another year, it’s the ideal time to reflect on the year that was. Getting a good grasp on where we have been gives us a better sense of where we’re going in the year to come.

Looking over major healthcare publications and blogs reveals a few significant trends that the industry has been talking about over the past year. Here are a few themes that have consistently presented themselves through the year.

 

Mergers and Vertical Integration

The top topic of conversation throughout 2018 is one that we’ve already spent a lot of time talking about: mergers.

The massive healthcare network Aetna has been finalizing a deal that would partner them with pharmaceutical giant CVS. With two such major players joining forces, healthcare analysts have spent a lot of 2018 discussing what the potential impact and fall out for the rest of the industry would look like.

These headlines followed news earlier in the year that Alphabet, the parent company of tech monolith Google, invested $375 million in the technology focused insurance start up Oscar. The future of that partnership is still taking shape.

Another massive internet player, Amazon, has been a much talked about healthcare news item for 2018. Amazon formed a coalition with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Healthcare, and although so far that partnership has only impacted a few people, Amazon has hinted that there might be much bigger moves to come in 2019.

If you need a refresher, we’ve shared before some of the concerns about the ongoing consolidation trend. It’s a trend that we’re unlikely to see slowing down in 2019.

 

Medicaid Changes

One of the other major topics of conversation in the healthcare arena over the past year was the potential expansion of Medicaid and shifting work requirements. That conversation is almost always ultimately a political one.

In 2018, the Trump Administration allowed states to implement altered work requirements for Medicaid. Arkansas was the first to implement those work requirements in June.

Those changes were hotly debated leading into the 2018 midterm elections. With a Democratic majority gained in the House while the Republican party continues to hold the majority in the Senate, chances are that 2019 is going to see less rapid changes.

With more of a bipartisan presence in Washington, changes will require more compromise, resulting in slower and steadier alterations.  

 

Data

Another major talking point is data: who has access to it and how it is used. This conversation has been spurred by the news of multiple major data breaches. This raises considerations about security and who should have patient data in the first place.

The other major data discussion surrounds big data and how it can be used to enhance the healthcare experience.

Big data refers to detailed information about large numbers of people and their interactions and interests. Utilizing this information to improve the patient experience is one of the major technological questions for the next few years.

 

Value-Based Care

Throughout all of these issues that have taken the stage in 2018, healthcare providers, employers and patients are all in pursuit of value-based care.

In 2018, 34% of healthcare payments were through a non-fee-for-service model. This continued the trend of value-based primary care increasing in how much of the market it dominates (an increase that has been gaining speed since 2015).

A lot of these topics are things that Captiva Benefit Solutions has been addressing with companies and their employees.

With our emphasis on value-based primary care, data transparency and providing a way to sidestep the restrictions of a rapidly consolidating market, we can provide ways for your employees to get the care they need — whatever 2019 holds.