For over a year, the US has spent much of its time wondering who would be the next Commander-in-Chief, and what the implications would be with a Hillary Clinton or a Donald Trump presidency. Now that we have our answer – that Donald Trump will be leading the nation for at least the next four years – people across all industries are wondering how a new administration will impact their business.
What exactly will this new administration mean for healthcare IT? The space is relatively bipartisan. People on both sides of the aisle realize that technology can enable better patient care in a cost-effective way and has the ability to be far-reaching, providing better care options to those in rural areas. But there’s no doubt that the most recent election will drive some changes in 2017.
Challenges and predictions
Until concrete policies are rolled out, it is difficult to make projections or assumptions about the new administration. However, by looking back at President Obama’s leadership and understanding the current state of the industry’s biggest issues, we’re able to see what opportunities exist for the Trump administration to help the healthcare IT industry thrive.
- A shortage of caregivers: As more patients entered insurance exchanges, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) further exposed a shortage of caregivers that has been a looming threat for years. The industry needed a transformation – and under President Obama, the ACA was an important step toward value-based care. There are parts of the ACA that are often not discussed, such as lowering costs, improving outcomes, and making healthcare more accountable. All parties generally agree that those benefits are on the horizon. However, the overall execution is what fell short. The new administration has the opportunity to leverage the initial transformation effort and correct the elements of the previous plan that did not meet their intended expectations.
- Siloes are still a problem: Access to clinically relevant data is the most important element needed to address the shortage of caregivers and the influx of new patients. And yet, even at the end of 2016, it is not available under the current interoperability standards. The Obama administration failed to recognize the importance of interoperability to support the shift toward value-based care, limited requirements around electronic health record interoperability standards, and largely ignored medical device connectivity. The new administration has the opportunity to better address the need for data interoperability, and recognize that clinically relevant data is necessary to support clinical workflows.
- A re-energized focus on rural care: Technologies such as telehealth have the power to improve care for those in rural areas who do not have regular access to the type of care available in urban areas. This kind of care improvement is supported on both sides. However, rural voters made a powerful statement in this election, expressing that rural health has been overlooked by the current administration. With that in mind, a new administration has an opportunity for a re-energized focus on telehealth to improve care in rural areas by accelerating telehealth reimbursement.
Where do we go from here?
Healthcare has experienced a number of changes during the past eight years that were designed to support objectives such as Meaningful Use, Accountable Care Organizations, the Affordable Care Act, ICD-10 conversion, and more. While the ideas were good, the execution was poor. The lack of business experience from our politicians has been a major barrier when executing these types of complex programs.
The new administration has an opportunity for ‘quick wins’ that would result in quality improvements for the healthcare IT industry. Over time, the new administration’s focus on interoperability and cybersecurity may be the catalyst that drives the industry forward. Time will tell.