COVID-19 Update: Read our messages to employees and clients

COVID-19 UPDATE
January 05, 2015
Checks and Balances: Trends in Healthcare Spending

A look at recent headlines regarding healthcare costs shows a mix of good and bad news. Here are 4 key trends that provide insight into the current state of healthcare spending and what this might mean for healthcare organizations.

1. Overall healthcare spending is projected to increase modestly

The number of uninsured Americans is expected to decrease by nearly 50% over the next 10 years, which means that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) are projecting a rise in healthcare expenditures. However, costs are projected to increase at a slower rate than in previous years, remaining under 6% through 2023, compared with annual spending rises of an average 7.2% annually from 1990–2008 — 2 percentage points faster than the average gross domestic product (GDP) for that timespan. In addition, the rise in spending is expected to take up larger proportions of federal, state and local budgets. The 2014 growth in spending is expected to be approximately 5.6%, although out-of-pocket spending will have fallen by 0.2%.

However, per-capita Medicare spending is on the decrease

Although the burden of the overall healthcare spending is expected to shift slightly to federal and state government budgets, Medicare spending actually slowed, from 4.8% in 2012 to 3.3% in 2013.This means that Medicare expenditures — spending growth for which has traditionally outstripped GDP — are falling on a per-person basis. What’s more, the Congressional Budget Office forecasts that this “negative cost growth” will be sustained through 2020.

In the private payor arena, clarity on costs is hard to come by

Although overall numbers can be estimated and projected in large-scale terms, individual consumers may have a tough time finding out what their healthcare costs, or understanding what their options are when it comes to getting the most cost-effective healthcare for themselves and their families. In Miami, averaged payments “obscure details that would allow the county to truly understand and manage its labor healthcare costs.” Even where information is widely available, the value of pricing disclosures has yet to be determined. In New Hampshire, some experts are pushing for consumer incentives in addition to transparency. This is because, as one reporter in Massachusetts learned, that sifting through the pricing data requires time, effort, and access, all of which create barriers.

As a result, cost-transparency efforts need to be improved 

Because of the lack of usable data and the variance in how cost and spending data — of usable quality or not — are reported, the Government Accountability Office (GAO) is calling on CMS to “take steps to improve the information in its transparency tools and develop procedures and metrics to ensure that tools address consumers’ needs.” The GAO recommendations call for better estimates of out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries; better-organized quality data that let consumers choose providers based on performance; the availability of more-relevant content; and more promotion of CMS’s and others’ transparency tools to the public.

“Transparency tools are most effective if they provide information relevant to consumers and convey information in a way that consumers can readily understand,” writes the GAO. “The information that is most relevant to consumers relates directly to their personal circumstances, such as information on specific procedures they are considering, and allows them to make meaningful distinctions among providers based on their performance.”

Nurse Care Team Assistants
While nurses comprise the largest healthcare workforce, many suffer in silence from burnout and decreased job satisfaction. Our Nurse CTAs combat burnout with strategic support. From documenting patient encounters to monitoring vital signs, CTAs ensure nurses work top-of-license. CTAs close critical gaps in the care continuum and provide nurses with the added bandwidth to focus on critical care.

LEARN MORE AT CARETHROUGH.COM
TeleScribe Services
Providers with limited space or in need of increased privacy on behalf of their patients have valuable documentation support through our real-time video TeleScribe program. Healthcare sites in rural settings also benefit from our unrivaled offsite resource for optimized efficiency and tackling administrative burdens.

LEARN MORE AT SCRIBEAMERICA.COM
Care Team Assistants
Our team of experts have developed innovative strategies from the industry insights gained from nearly two decades of healtchare leadership to improve care team performance. A tailored, next-generation CTA Program extends your ability to support patients throughout their care journey.

LEARN MORE AT SCRIBEAMERICA.COM
Care Navigators
As healthcare business models evolve, so should care teams. Patients who are paired with Care Navigators report feeling less anxiety, and an increased ability to self-manage their conditions between visits. And providers report increased job satisfaction from improved efficiency, and knowing their patients have access to care teams, and strategic support.

LEARN MORE AT CARETHROUGH.COM
Scribe Services
There’s a reason why we’re the nation’s most frequently used scribe company: we offer professionally trained in-person and virtual medical scribes to meet the specific needs of our clients. We offer a variety of scribe programs, as well as technology and personnel solutions that address revenue cycle management, the transition to value-based care, and more through our HealthChannels family of companies.

LEARN MORE AT SCRIBEAMERICA.COM
Artificial Intelligence
Our advanced AI solutions tackle complex documentation challenges to reduce the administrative burden preventing doctors from delivering precision care. We'll guide you through the best practices for incorporating AI into your workflow. Gain visibility into your data with enhanced analytics driven by AI and CTAs.

LEARN MORE AT SOUNDLINES.COM