If the healthcare industry has one constant, it’s change. While new medical technologies and scientific advances will improve patient outcomes and quality of life, forecasters at Verge Health believe that innovation in behind-the-scenes activities (such as patient experience, technology, and risk management) will serve as some of the primary change-drivers of 2018.

Let’s take a closer look at the top three trends that will impact the healthcare industry this year.

Increased focus on patient experience.
Increased efficiency through technology.
Increased competition through mergers.

#1. Patient Experience Advances to the Forefront

While the healthcare industry has increased focus on the patient overall, 2018 will be accompanied by a strong emphasis of patient experience. Patients must feel they are in a safe, trusted environment that prioritizes open communication and respect. Nurturing this environment requires organizations to consistently meet excellence standards across a wide variety of performance areas.

Creating a culture that benefits patients starts with happy and engaged employees. Verge Health forecasters predict an increase in patient culture programs that involve all employees. Additionally, forward-thinking organizations will create Chief Patient Experience Officer roles to lead this shift toward a patient-first culture. The benefits of a culture that encourages open, honest, and direct communication among patients, providers, and staff go directly to the heart of patient experience.

#2. Technology Will Drive Efficiency

This year will also see the healthcare industry continue its pursuit of efficiency through technology that improves performance and offsets risks. The lines between patient, organizational, and financial risk are no longer siloed. They are connected. Hospital organizations need an integrated system to protect and defend across the care continuum.

Organizations prefer smarter integration of disconnected data systems over complex patchwork solutions that aim to decipher information scattered across multiple sources and entities. Consolidated information means organizations can better analyze and act on insights hidden in the data.

Operational efficiencies are also achieved through consolidated work streams, automating tasks such as routine paperwork, and implementing predictive analytics. As data continues to assume a central role in healthcare, the correct approach and systems can translate to better health outcomes for patients, improved reimbursements, and a culture of proactive readiness. The Converge Platform is already helping more than 900 healthcare organizations drive efficiency through technology.

#3. Mergers Bring Increased Competition

Thirdly, 2018 will bring more mergers and acquisitions in the healthcare industry. Since these formations show no signs of slowing down, organizations will need to find new ways to successfully compete with these growing entities. Effective strategies will include leveraging opportunities for improved data sharing, gaining operational efficiencies, and putting the patient at the forefront.

One way hospitals can position competitively is by focusing on Governance, Risk, and Compliance (GRC). GRC, a discipline that comes from the airline and nuclear industries, aims to synchronize information and activity across governance, risk management and compliance, so that hospitals can operate more efficiently, enable effective information sharing, and more effectively report activities in order to avoid wasteful overlaps. 

In 2016 Ernst and Young released a report demonstrating that organizations focused on GRC see positive financial results and outperform their peers. With increased competition, a focus on GRC can give healthcare organizations an edge. Verge Health’s proprietary GRCH Maturity Scale helps organizations assess their current baseline state of maturity (in regard to enterprise risk management) and establish an ROI for achieving high reliability. Organizations then walk through a three-phase process to reach high reliability and stay there.

A Successful Year In Healthcare

In order to find success in 2018, healthcare industries will want to prioritize patient experience, use technology to improve efficiency, and prepare for an increasingly competitive market through maturing their GRC practices.

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