PwC lays out its top 10 healthcare issues for 2016

Topping the list: merger mania
By Bernie Monegain
09:55 AM

It's that time of year when healthcare pundits take stock of the waning year and predict what's in store the year ahead. PwC's Health Research Institute is out with its 10 anticipated healthcare trends for 2016.

"It will be a year of firsts for healthcare consumers, organizations and new entrants as innovative tools and services enter the new health economy," accoding to PwC.

Its "Top health industry issues" report highlights the trends likely to have the most impact on the industry, with a look back at key events from the past decade.

The top 10 issues:

1. 2016 is the year of merger mania
High-profile mergers and acquisitions likely will continue in 2016, with regulators taking center stage in the debate over how consolidation impacts consumers.

[See also: Running list: Health IT mergers and acquisitions.]

2. "Goldilocks" comes to drug prices
Reminiscent of the proverbial story of Goldilocks, the search is on for a drug pricing formula that is "just right."

3. Care in the palm of your hand
Thanks to technology and shifts in financial incentives, care will begin to move into the palms of consumers' hands, providing care anywhere, anytime.

4. Cybersecurity concerns come to medical technology
As security breaches become more common and costly, attention shifts to buttressing the security of medical devices.

[See also: 2015 healthcare security breaches: a long list.]

5. The new money managers
Shouldering higher deductibles, consumers seek help managing their health spending with fresh tools and services developed by players new and old.

6. Behavioral healthcare: no longer on the backburner
Employers and healthcare organizations eye behavioral healthcare as key to keeping costs down, productivity up and consumers healthy.

7. Care moves to the community
As payment shifts to value-based models, health systems will pursue lower-cost settings more aggressively than before while employing creative approaches to distributing care.

8. New databases improve patient care and consumer health
New databases and database tools will allow industry players to analyze data from many sources in novel ways, finally unlocking insights embedded in the reams of information being collected about health consumers.

9. Enter the biosimilars
Biosimilars, lower-cost substitutes for branded biologic drugs, are expected to begin to offer some counterweight to rising drug prices in 2016, much as generic drugs did 30 years ago.

10. The medical cost mystery
In the journey to value-based care, health systems dig in to calculate the true cost of services, an exercise that also can uncover opportunities to become more efficient and improve care.

Read the PwC report here.

What do you think? Would you choose the same, or would your picks be more focused on health IT?