Ten Transformative Trends 2020: An Introduction

To say that we are all living in extraordinary times would at this point be rather an understatement. The U.S. healthcare system was already experiencing unprecedented stressors before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S. full-force this spring, bringing disease, an intense need for extremely intensive and complex patient care, and exceptional financial pressures to the nation’s hospitals, medical groups, health systems, and other patient care organizations.

Yet in the midst of the crisis, patient care leaders continue to innovate forward in a number of areas, as they attempt to reengineer the U.S. healthcare delivery system towards the system that the purchasers, payers, and consumers of healthcare are demanding: one of consistently high clinical quality and outcomes, controlled costs, improved consumer and community experiences, and enhanced clinician and other patient care organization staff quality of worklife.

Indeed, the crisis brought on by the pandemic has already led to a sudden and dramatic shift towards telehealth-delivered care, care management, and triaging.

Other trends, too, are moving forward, among them increasing integration of behavioral and physical healthcare, particularly for individuals with complex care needs; an intensifying push towards true healthcare system-wide interoperability; the further development of standards; and working through data privacy issues.

In some cases, such as with regard to artificial intelligence, experts believe that once this crisis has passed or lightened, advances will accelerate, as clinician and administrative leaders will recognize the value of moving forward quickly, in order for the U.S. healthcare delivery system to move forward more quickly in future crises. In other cases, the shift from fee-for-service-based reimbursement to value-based payment, for example, is at least temporarily endangered by the financial fragilization of the entire U.S. provider sector.

In any case, below the surface, tremendous work is continuing to be pursued to transform our U.S. healthcare system, and the broad trends pushing the system towards greater demonstrated value remain unstoppable over the longer term.

We hope that you will find this package of articles to be meaningful and useful at this time of challenge and opportunity. As always, it is our privilege and pleasure every year to speak to top industry experts and observers, as well as leaders in the trenches, to bring you this important future-focused content.

—The Editors of Healthcare Innovation

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