The Uncertain Future of Obamacare and the Healthcare Industry

The results of the United States Presidential election came as a shock to almost everyone – even Trump supporters. Most prepared for a Clinton win, which would have meant that even if the Republican party held onto the House and the Senate, there would still be a relative balance of power across party lines. In that scenario, the future of Obamacare, and the healthcare industry at large, was certain to stay the course. But a Republican Congress and Presidency, makes that future less certain.

Republicans have talked about repealing the Affordable Care Act for six years, backing their words with actions, sending numerous bills through Congress to amend and/or repeal the Act. These efforts failed under the Obama administration, which implemented the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to health insurance to over 20 million previously uninsured lives. In the last six years, the annual increase of health spending has slowed to equal the rate of gross domestic product (GDP). The healthcare cost savings from 2010-2020 should exceed $1 trillion. More importantly, as payers and providers have adjusted their businesses to the New Healthcare Economy, we have seen improvements in quality outcomes including a 25% reduction in hospital readmissions.

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2017 Predictions: Big Data, Digital, and Virtual Care Key to Engage Healthcare’s Empowered Consumer

The healthcare industry is changing rapidly as its consumers begin to demand more of the organizations from whom they receive care and insurance. Not only are healthcare consumers sharing more financial risk for the insurance and care they receive, but they are increasingly purchasing insurance outside of group contracts via exchanges or Medicare and Medicaid programs. In 2015, we saw the first big signal that the health insurance industry is pivoting from B2B to B2C-whether they’re ready or not-as the percent of business served by group contracts dropped to 48%. Providers and payers continue to struggle to understand what engages the healthcare consumer. As they seek to win, serve and retain these customers, they will need the tools, people, and culture to crack that code and master patient and consumer engagement.

Forrester sees three big, highly visible trends accelerating in 2017: 1) continued adoption of big data technologies to ingest and derive useful, high-quality, and cost-impacting insights, 2) expanding investments in digital experience to achieve more engagement and satisfaction, and 3) virtual care investments continue to grow to serve future demand. We believe these investments are necessary to win, serve, and retain healthcare's empowered consumer, because:

  1. Mastery of unstructured data will deliver customer insight.  Payers and providers must integrate unstructured data to derive patient and customer insight. Providers, particularly, should start taking advantage of health clouds.  And they should begin to apply cognitive offerings to pull more insight from their data. 
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