5 Trends in Healthcare and How to Navigate Them

February 19, 2020
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New technologies are a driving force for change in healthcare, but other trends can pose barriers to care, like higher costs and less access to doctors. Staying up to date of trends and working with a group purchasing organization are ways providers can better meet patient needs while being mindful of the bottom line. 

Understanding trends can help facilities better respond to changes in the marketplace. Plus, being on the forefront of change can help non-acute organizations capture new opportunities and decrease the impact of changes that affect costs. Here are five trends in healthcare that every facility should have on their radar.


Soaring costs aren’t new, as providers are painfully aware. What they may not know is just how much costs have risen. In 1960, healthcare costs were 5% of the gross domestic product (GDP), according to the American Medical Association. In 2017, they were 17.9% of the GDP at $3.5 trillion, making healthcare one of the country’s largest industries. This equated to $10,739 per person in 2017, up dramatically from $146 per person in 1960.

The skyrocketing costs can be attributed to many factors, including a growing number of chronic illnesses, higher healthcare and drug costs in the U.S. compared to other countries, an aging population in need of care, and expensive technologies used for diagnoses and treatments. Costs are expected to continue to escalate. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services Office of the Actuary predicts national healthcare expenditures to reach about $6 trillion by 2027.

Rising costs are forcing providers to streamline and be more mindful of expenses. One way to contain costs is by utilizing best practices and partnering with a group purchasing organization (GPO). For example, Provista utilizes more than $100 billion in purchasing power to secure competitive prices for members, offers analytics to identify cost savings, and provides expertise to enhance quality and performance.

“National healthcare expenditures are expected to reach about $6 trillion by 2027.”


Hiring and retaining staff continues to be a challenge. Nursing positions in particular are in demand. That trend is expected to continue as the nursing population ages. In 2018, half of registered nurses were 50 years old or older, according to the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).

The registered nursing workforce is predicted to grow from 2.9 million in 2016 to 3.4 million in 2026, an increase of 438,100 or 15%, according to AACN. Turnover can be an expensive problem. The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation reports that the cost to replace a registered nurse ranges from $22,000 to more than $64,000. This figure includes the expenses associated with filling temporary vacancies as well as hiring and training new staff. With annual nursing turnover estimated at between 8% and 14%, costs can add up quickly.

A GPO can help with staffing, training and retention strategies. GPOs offer contracts with employment agencies that can fill almost any position, clinical or business, at any level, on a temporary, long-term, or permanent basis.

Many patients face barriers that hinder access to care. Barriers range from an inability to pay for services to lacking reliable transportation to keep doctor appointments. One in 10 adults delayed or did not receive care in 2017 because of costs. Mental health services can be especially hard to access. A study revealed that lack of access to proper care, including limited options and long wait times, is a root cause of the mental health crisis in America.
A new barrier has emerged that will likely hinder access for years to come—a physician shortage is making it hard for patients to see a doctor. By 2030, the shortage is expected to reach up to 104,900 physicians.
GPOs can help with transportation challenges by offering contracts with rideshare services. For example, Provista partners with Lyft, which says its rideshare service has a 98% on-time patient arrival rate and can cut transportation costs by 32%.

“By 2030, there will be a shortage of 104,900 physicians.”

4. New Types of Providers: IDNs and Retailers

The formation of integrated delivery networks (IDNs) is a popular trend in healthcare. IDNs are “large healthcare delivery organizations that either own or manage multiple points of patient care—from hospitals to physician practices to long-term care facilities, and everything in between,” according to eyeforpharma.

The number of IDNs increased 30% from 2014 to 2019. Up to 70% of medical claims now flow through IDNs and physician networks nationally. IDNs strive to consolidate services and streamline purchasing to lower costs. Meanwhile, retail clinics are also growing in popularity. Consumers like the convenience and extended hours offered by retail locations. Retail clinics treat minor illnesses that are not complex, which differentiates them from urgent care and physician clinics. The global retail market is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 10.2% from 2019 to 2027.

5. More Tech-Savvy Consumers

The traditional approach of booking a doctor appointment over the phone and then showing up to sit in a waiting room for an in-person interaction is becoming outdated. More patients want to use technology to book appointments online and use telehealth.

Millennials and Generation Zers especially want a tech-enabled experience. Millennials have already changed how healthcare is consumed. Facilities are now challenged to use technology that delivers a high return on investment, enables better outcomes and improves patient experiences.
GPOs can help with planning, buying and implementing tech solutions. They work with leading IT companies that have expertise in healthcare related and customer service technologies.

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