Here are healthcare industry leader responses to the midterm elections and thoughts on where health IT is headed.
Dean L. Smith, MD. Chief Medical Information Officer and Senior Vice President of Government Relations of GlobalMed: I don’t foresee a significant change in the continued growth trajectory of virtual care technologies, such as telemedicine, following the recent midterm elections. Although there are legislative risks associated with a divided Congress, the demand for affordable healthcare access coupled with continued improvements in networks remain strong drivers for adoption of virtual care.
Ron Wince. Founder and CEO of Myndshft: In general, we won’t see dramatic changes in the ACA due to the changing of the guard in the House of Representatives to the Democrats. There are a few areas where there is bipartisan support for making changes. Lowering drug prices is an area where both parties and their constituents seem to agree that there is a need to take some action, but what those changes might be are still unknown. In most other healthcare areas, we’ll see a continuation of the current state. Preexisting conditions are safe for now and there likely won’t be any progress toward “Medicare for All.” Expanded Medicaid coverage and other aspects of Obamacare should also remain unscathed until the next election cycle.
Lory Olsson. Senior Vice President of Commercial Operations at Zynx Health: The continuation of escalating costs, shrinking reimbursements and the increase in patients accessing Medicare and Medicaid is creating a tremendous strain on this country’s healthcare providers. Most health systems are in the midst of transitioning away from long-entrenched processes and workflows that reward and reimburse based on volume and production, to newer models that incent providers to focus on patient outcomes and delivering high quality and cost-effective care. Regardless of what political party holds the office, healthcare providers will continue to struggle to address these challenges in the communities they serve.
It’s important for our political leaders to understand the current healthcare landscape and support clinicians and providers in their critical need for technology solutions that drive efficiencies and advance quality of care efforts. For example, clinicians require tools that incorporate evidence-based interventions into existing workflows, measure utilization at the individual patient level and educate clinicians of best practices based on evidence. Furthermore, clinicians need solutions to help identify gaps in care, understand the clinical and financial impact of the treatments they choose and that promote behavior changes that are supported by evidence-based care. With the right information available at the point of care, health systems will be better equipped to accelerate their transition to value-based, high-quality, reliable patient care.
Dr. Michael D. Abramoff. Founder and CEO of IDx: In the wake of the midterm election results, we can now focus even more on bipartisan issues, including the safe introduction of autonomous artificial intelligence in healthcare. Developing policies that support both patient safety and reimbursement of autonomous AI in healthcare is critical. As a leader in the space, our expertise has been sought after by the FDA, White House and the Federal Trade Commission. We are hopeful that the midterm results are conducive to implementing policy changes, so that we can realize the enormous potential of autonomous AIs to lower healthcare costs and improve quality and accessibility.
Hossein Fakhrai-Rad. Founder and President of BaseHealth: After the dust settles from the midterm elections, an increasingly divided government will continue to struggle with healthcare reform. What will be more interesting to study and impactful for providers in the next couple years is the effect of recent acquisitions by major players and the entrance of consumer companies into healthcare. The key to adapting and thriving in the changing landscape will be strong, data-driven decision making about patient populations.
G. Cameron Deemer. President of DrFirst: The midterm elections proved healthcare is top-of-mind for millions of Americans and for the candidates that were campaigning to win their votes. What’s most important about this moment in our nation’s history is that the political focus on solving the healthcare crisis is stronger than ever before. Both on the state level and in the national arena, leaders have expressed a profound commitment to transforming the current environment. The promise to improve healthcare for all constituents is an important first step toward solving our most pressing healthcare issues, including the high cost of coverage, the lack of access to affordable care and the opioid epidemic. By both prioritizing and humanizing healthcare, progress can be made. We encourage legislators to remain dedicated to this essential cause by collaborating with one another to improve the accessibility, affordability and quality of care for all Americans.
Elizabeth Marshall, MD, MBA. Director of Clinical Analytics at Linguamatics: Overall, disease is not biased in favor of any political party or socioeconomic group. Regardless of which political party is in power, we must work together to fight our common enemy: poor and/or declining health. One weapon that will help us win this battle is the effective use of clinical data. By leveraging the vast amount of available clinical data from EHRs, drug studies, public databases and more, we can advance quality-of-care initiatives, accelerate drug discovery and implement precision medicine initiatives. I encourage lawmakers to keep healthcare a top priority and support technology solutions that can help us become a healthier nation.
Jay Anders, MD. Chief Medical Officer of Medicomp Systems: The midterm elections showed that healthcare was a top concern for voters. Despite that call-to-action for newly elected officials, we won’t see much progress in the next two years, not only because of the now divided Congress, but also because the Trump administration will be consumed with immigration reform — and almost any other issues to avoid addressing the complex, much needed changes to healthcare policy. While the opioid crisis will likely receive a substantial amount of funding because of the ‘state of emergency’ in America, Medicare funding and funding for Obamacare will not see much, if any, change. Similarly, standards for interoperability will plod along at its current, painstakingly slow pace and will not receive significant enough funding at the federal level to move the bar.
Jennifer Mathieu. Senior Manager of Healthcare Policy and Government Relations at Lumeris: With the newly elected Democratic House and a Republican Senate, we can expect two years of gridlock, as probably no new major healthcare legislation will succeed in this Congress unless uniformly bipartisan. Republican efforts to impact the ACA, Medicaid and Medicare may be blocked by Democrats, while Democrats’ new oversight power translates to healthcare investigations and hearings. Democrats will put forth healthcare legislative proposals in an attempt to unite the party around a single agenda; however, chances at it becoming law will be slim. Each party’s efforts over the next two years will provide insight into their priorities for 2020 and beyond. Healthcare progress will be most visible at the state level, as evidenced by the success of Medicaid expansion ballot initiatives in Idaho, Nebraska and Utah.
Scott McFarland. President of HealthBI: When three red states vote by ballot to expand Medicaid, take the hint — Americans want this program and they want it to succeed. It’s an issue that now truly crosses party lines. Arizona, another so-called red state, actually foreshadowed this in October when it launched integrated physical and mental healthcare for the state’s Medicaid members. I expect 2019 will be the year of Medicaid, as providers, policy makers and the healthcare industry at large work to deliver on a clear voter mandate to strengthen and expand this increasingly popular program.
Date: November 21, 2018