Healthcare Outlook: Many Challenges, No Quick Fixes

Already undergoing challenging and sometimes painful changes, the global healthcare sector can expect more of the same in 2020 and for some time beyond. But these changes also present opportunities says a 2020 outlook from Deloitte.

The drivers of the the sector’s transformation are many: “A growing and aging population, rising prevalence of chronic diseases, infrastructure investments, technological advancement, evolving care models, higher labor costs amid worker shortages, and the expansion of health care systems in developing markets.”

The Deloitte outlook examines four broad categories of change:

  1. Financial operations and performance improvement
  2. Digital transformation and interoperability
  3. Care model innovation
  4. Future of work

While each of these is already in play, some pose greater difficulty. Globally, and especially in the US, “health systems are struggling to maintain financial sustainability in an uncertain and changing environment.” While righting the financial picture will be different from country to country, Deloitte notes “a few of the options could be payment reform, universal health coverage, pricing controls, population health management (PHM), and public-private partnerships (PPPs). Industry consolidation and a changing regulatory landscape also are seen as influencing factors.

“Health system leaders will likely need to employ a balanced mix of these levers in 2020 to deliver high-quality care and achieve financial sustainability.”

Employers will continue to deal with a shortage of healthcare professionals. “A widening demand-supply gap of skilled professionals is creating immediate challenges for public and private health system,” says Deloitte, describing rising demand in developing countries and shortages almost everywhere.

Deloitte especially sees no easing of the demand shortfall of nurses and doctors, calling it “particularly acute.” If anything, the report suggests the shortage in the US and in Europe has the potential for getting worse.

Countries are experimenting with different approaches to easing the shortages including adoption of AI-enabled diagnostic tools, free medical school tuition in exchange for working in underserved areas and broader and faster adoption of remote medicine technology and even repatriation incentives.

Ultimately, “Health systems need to consider new methods to source, hire, train, and retain skilled workers to achieve.

Photo by Myriam Zilles on Unsplash

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