Mark E. Lutes, Chair of the firm’s Board of Directors and Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was featured in an MCOL ThoughtLeaders newsletter, discussing the following question: “What healthcare trend(s) for 2019 did most people not see coming a couple of years ago?”

Following is an excerpt:

Two trends that many people either “did not see coming” or “severely under-estimated” have been: 1) the rise of consumerism; and 2) the pervasiveness of inpatient alternatives.

First, during this Holiday season, when we are staying away from the Mall and instead enjoying the fruits of Amazon Prime and internet/on-line shopping generally, it is dawning on us that a material part of our health care spend might migrate to the web. As we watch gen X, Gen y, millennials and others embrace on-line consults and tele-visits, we realize that we likely have been underestimating the paradigm shift that the internet poses for health care delivery and spending.

Second, many of us severely underestimated the percentage of procedures that would migrate to non-acute/ambulatory settings. This trend is supported by clinical and technological advances. Minimally invasive surgical procedures and new anesthesia techniques allow patients to return home sooner. Moreover patients are beginning to prefer these settings — in part due to convenience but also due to concerns with the potential for hospital acquired infections. The convergence has become complete as physician groups have recognized opportunities to offer payors, as well as the consumer burdened by a high deductible benefit design, an attractive ASC and other alternative site.

In each case, there were, of course, “plenty of clues” for us even years ago. However, as is often the case with technological evolution, the pace of change has accelerated and our recognition of its profound financial and competitive impacts has been slow in coming.

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