Next year, US health organisations will undergo a strategy makeover as they react to new rules and payment models, continuing cost pressures and new customer demands, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers’s Health Research Institute.

However, in a new report, the consultant notes that in a  nationwide survey of 1,000 US adults, it found that consumers "don’t fully understand or buy-in to all the changes".

For 2011, the top issues according to HRI include record spending on health information technology which is likely to increase demand for skilled HIT professionals. The institute also envisages "an expanded role for chief information officers and increased merger and acquisition activity among organisations looking to share the cost and benefits of HIT integration".

The report notes that "new risks and opportunities may emerge as payment models shift from fee-for-service to new models that focus on performance, health outcomes and shared cost savings in accountable care organisations. It argues that a further uptick in M&A activity is "one way health organisations may share administrative burdens and IT investments, gain market share and fill strategic gaps".

The HRI also believes pharmaceutical companies will see an opportunity to"increase their visibility with consumers, influence health outcomes and reduce healthcare costs while increasing revenue using digital strategies and technology". The use of mobile health and wireless technologies is expected to continue to surge.

Daniel Garrett, principal at PwC’s health industries technology practice, says organisations are placing their bets on the future direction of healthcare and making decisions that will position their businesses for competitive advantage. Some "will undergo an extreme makeover while others will stay the course or refine existing strategies", he added, claiming that "whichever path they take, all health organisations will be under pressure to deliver greater value for less, and they will face new risks and realities as business models and market players emerge".


The report is available at www.pwc.com/us/tophealthissues2011