Depending on your perspective, the health care sector could be good, bad or ugly in 2020. Health care means different things to different people. Whether you’re a provider, administrator or employer in this market will make a big difference in terms of what the year holds in store for you. Either way, change and cost pressures will continue to define the industry—not only in the near future but long term.
If you’re a hospital, you’ll face more competition. Industry experts say the Capital Region market is overbuilt and over-bedded, but that hasn’t stopped institutions from expanding their local presence, particularly in the fast-growing areas of Livingston and Ascension parishes, with new urgent and primary care clinics, which serve as feeders, and freestanding emergency rooms. Look for this trend to continue, as hospitals have to find new ways to make money amid dwindling reimbursements for traditional, inpatient hospital stays and procedures.
Also on the horizon: Efforts to address the chronic nursing shortage. The Louisiana Hospital Association is expected to make this among its legislative priorities during the session this spring.
If you’re a doctor, you’ll continue to feel pressure to adapt to new payment models that, unlike the old fee-for-service system, are outcome-based and focus on preventive care. You’ll also notice physicians assistants and nurse practitioners playing a larger role in delivering basic primary care, especially as a growing number of employers join the narrow networks that insurers and hospitals are partnering to create in response to demand from employers.
Also on the horizon: Telemedicine won’t just be a buzzword anymore. It’s real. It’s here and it’s an increasingly important part of the way health care is delivered. This will only continue to grow over time.
If you’re an employer, you’ll continue to struggle with how to pay for the high cost of health insurance for your employees. Health care costs rose 8% for self-insured companies last year, the biggest jump in a decade. It will only get worse. Look for more collaboration and creative approaches—on-site clinics, for example, where individual companies or groups of businesses partner to create their own clinic at or near the workplace.
Also on the horizon: Narrow network plans sound a lot like the HMOs of the 1980s, limiting access in an effort to control costs. But with costs so high, they will continue to grow in popularity and acceptance.
On the bright side: Good things are happening in the development of the local health care sector. The October announcement that Pennington Biomedical Research Center has snagged Dr. Phillip Schauer (right), the world’s top bariatric surgeon, to head up a new bariatric and metabolic surgery center that will open this spring, has untold potential to transform Pennington from a world-class research institution into a top-flight treatment center, and to turn Baton Rouge into a health care destination. Like the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio or M.D. Anderson in Houston, Pennington’s new center will become an economic development engine. It also helps establish the Baton Rouge Health District, which after several years of being a concept will become a reality in 2020.