It might sound a little familiar
The healthcare industry enters 2012 faced with familiar stressors: an unsteady economic recovery, high unemployment and the scramble to comply with a wave of new federal health policies.
But the year promises a few original twists, not the least among them the upcoming presidential election and the U.S. Supreme Court decision on key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
Hospitals that have cut expenses as the economy slowed could continue to see meager revenue growth should the recovery drag. The sector may also see cuts to Medicaid, as states seek to slow healthcare spending, and Medicare, as Congress wrangles over how to curb the federal deficit. Device manufacturers will feel the squeeze as well, as hospitals look to curb spending.
Hospitals finished 2011 with pressure from another source: active nurses unions that are unafraid to take their grievances public. It’s a trend likely to spill over into the months ahead.
Meanwhile, sectors across the industry will face new challenges and opportunities from federal initiatives to boost information technology use, improve quality and efficiency, regulate the insurance market and fight fraud.
Health information technology adoption is expected to accelerate as office-based physicians race to take advantage of federal incentive programs. The coming year also marks the final months of preparation before the CMS links hospital pay to performance on clinical and patient satisfaction scores.
Health insurers will seek to comply with new oversight under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act while hospitals that could see potentially hefty fines for breaking the law may find relief under one provision.
For a more detailed look at the industry’s challenges and opportunities in the year ahead, read on.