Health Care Predictions for 2011: How’d We Do?

December 24, 2011
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A year ago I asked my Twitter followers to make health care predictions for 2011. Several were brave enough to go on the record, and I organized their thoughts into four themes. Rather than solicit a new set of predictions for 2012 I decided to go back and review how last year’s forecasts panned out. In general they were pretty accurate.

The four themes were as follows, each with specific predictions outlined in the blog post.

A year ago I asked my Twitter followers to make health care predictions for 2011. Several were brave enough to go on the record, and I organized their thoughts into four themes. Rather than solicit a new set of predictions for 2012 I decided to go back and review how last year’s forecasts panned out. In general they were pretty accurate.

The four themes were as follows, each with specific predictions outlined in the blog post.

  1. Transparency will change from buzzword to reality
  2. Information technology progress will be uneven, with the biggest breakthroughs in mobile
  3. A culture of patient safety will begin to take root
  4. Health reform implementation will advance despite some ugly battles

Number 2 and number 4 were right on the money, while number 1 was a bit of overstated and number 3 was worded cautiously enough that it would be fairly surprising if it didn’t come true.

The most prescient prediction came from AOL founder Steve Case (@SteveCase) under #2 who said, “Mobile health will be a game changer in health and wellness.” At the time I thought this was an exaggeration but 2011 really has been the year of mobile health. In particular I note the phenomenon of physicians bringing their personal iPads and iPhones to work to use in the clinical workflow, a development CIOs and CMIOs still don’t have their arms around.

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Under #4 I single out Dr. Bruce Siegel (@siegelmd), CEO of the National Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems for taking a strong stand and being mostly right. He wrote, “Always an optimist, I think 2011 is the year that economic recovery takes hold. This changes the national health care debate dramatically as the Administration’s leverage is bolstered. There are some very ugly battles ahead, especially in the state houses, but overall it’s a year of consolidation. Also, the Redskins won’t go to the Superbowl!”

Bruce’s predictions look durable enough to hold up for both 2011 and 2012. The US economy –even with its troubles– has been outperforming expectations lately and if it holds up will put Obama in strong shape for the 2012 campaign. The “ugly battles” prediction came true and so did the “year of consolidation” point as Affordable Care Act rules were written and implementation proceeded apace. The Redskins didn’t make the Superbowl in 2011 and don’t look likely to do so for 2012 either.

Under #1, Giovanni Colella, CEO of health care transparency company Castlight Health (@CastlightHealth) made a somewhat self-serving prediction that, “Consumers will increase their demands for personalized information about health care cost, quality and convenience and will turn to innovative applications to address these needs.” He was right at least to some extent. Beyond consumers, a lot of the transparency action this year came from initiatives by health plans, employers, and regional health improvement collaboratives.

I’ll give myself some credit for my not-so-risky assessment of the Affordable Care Act: “I expect Republicans to make moderate progress chipping away at the law, even though repeal is not in the offing. The recent one-year Sustainable Growth Rate (SGR) fix, which halted the automatic cut to Medicare reimbursement rates, was financed by snatching a little bit from PPACA insurance subsidies. Expect more gambits like that, along with objections to proposed rules, attempts to defund or delay specific provisions, and continued court challenges to the law itself.”

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I hope to publish a list of predictions for 2013 (or maybe I’ll shoot for a longer time frame) just after the Presidential election.

You can expect little to no blogging from me for the rest of 2011, though I’ll probably keep the Twitter feed (@HealthBizBlog) going.

I wish all my readers a health, happy, peaceful and prosperous 2012!