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What will shape healthcare in 2011?

December 22, 2010
by News release
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Boston — David E. Williams, co-founder of MedPharma Partners and author of the Health Business Blog predicts that transparency, mobile health, patient safety and the implementation of health reform will be the big healthcare stories of 2011. The four predictions are based on his own insights and the views of his Twitter followers including prominent healthcare executives and entrepreneurs.

"The passage of the Affordable Care Act made 2010 a memorable year in healthcare, but 2011 is shaping up to be equally significant," said Williams. "No one can master it all, so I asked my Twitter followers, including AOL co-founder Steve Case, Beth Israel CEO Paul Levy, and Castlight Health CEO Giovanni Colella to help me think through what lies ahead."

Transparency. The healthcare industry is tremendously opaque. Patients and doctors don't know the price of medical services, while pharmaceutical and medical device makers maintain secret financial arrangements with physicians. That will change next year as employers and consumers embrace online price transparency tools, companies begin reporting payments to doctors, and WikiLeaks exposes questionable dealings in the pharmaceutical industry.

Information technology. Mobile health will enjoy strong growth as new apps, smartphones and tablets enable consumers to prevent and manage chronic diseases. Meanwhile, physicians, hospitals and vendors will continue to make slow, uneven strides on electronic health record implementation in the quest to meet Meaningful Use requirements that qualify them for federal stimulus funds.

Patient safety. Hospitals will make significant progress building a culture of patient safety, spurred by strong executive and clinician leadership and enabled by eLearning tools and simulation. FDA and patient demands for drug safety will be met by advanced analytic tools that help pharmaceutical companies demonstrate safety and efficacy without driving up drug development costs.

Health reform implementation. Republicans will attempt to obstruct health reform at the federal and state level but the rollout of the Accountable Care Act will proceed, if bumpily. By year-end, a general economic recovery will take hold, giving the Obama Administration greater leverage in the healthcare debate and momentum heading into the 2012 elections.