Trends shaping healthcare and continuing medical education Thinkstock by Getty Images

Trends shaping healthcare and continuing medical education

Do You Know the 6 Major Forces Shaping Medical Meetings Today?

There are significant regulatory, cultural, and business-related trends that are changing the face of healthcare in the U.S. today. Are your continuing medical education activities keeping pace?


To ensure that continuing medical education remains relevant to today’s healthcare professionals and their patients, CME providers must first understand the forces that are driving change in the way healthcare is now perceived and delivered in the U.S.

As the Affordable Care Act has taken effect, healthcare organizations must become performing accountable care organizations, or ACOs, to be competitive. Those who plan medical and healthcare meetings are feeling the impact of that altering landscape and its new requirements. Simultaneously, healthcare professionals must deal with cultural and business-related forces that also are reshaping healthcare.

In this article, part one of a three-part series based on a recent MeetingsNet webinar, Jeff Hurt, Velvet Chainsaw Consulting’s executive vice president of education and engagement, details six trends that are driving change in healthcare—and healthcare continuing professional development. In part two, Hurt explains how continuing healthcare professional development must shift as well to meet the needs of today’s HCPs. Part three provides some techniques you can use to align your educational activities with the needs of your HCP learners. Also, check out the Learner’s Bill of Rights Hurt and the audience developed during the webinar.

6 Healthcare Trends to Watch

All medical meeting planners need to take a hard look at these six forces changing the healthcare industry in the U.S. “Use them to shape your executive decision-making,” Hurt said.

1. Cost savings vs. quality care

HCPs are being asked to deliver the best possible outcomes at a given level of cost. Healthcare also is becoming more about well-being than disease management, moving from diagnostic to preventative. Do your educational activities address this, or do they just outline the latest research results without putting them in a real-world context?

2. Healthcare delivery organizations are multiplying in number and type, and their affiliations are becoming increasingly complex.

Hurt pointed out that, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 50 percent of health systems have applied for an insurance license. What effect will that have on your HCP learners? How will it change the health insurance industry and how HCPs get paid? How can you adjust your CPD activities to address this new complexity?

3. There is an increase in care being provided outside the hospital setting.

Urgent-care centers outside the hospital are now a $13 billion market, Hurt said. There also is a greater reliance now on post-acute settings, such as home care and long-term acute care. Patients have a lot of choice on where to get their care. Are you helping your learners become aware of the changing environment and its potential impact on their practices? Telemedicine also is taking off like a rocket: Video consultations are projected to grow from 5.7 million in 2014 to 130 million by 2018, Hurt said. How will this affect your learners’ practices?

4. New leadership challenges

The changing environment is creating new competencies, compensations, and jobs, Hurt said. And, when CEOs leave, anywhere from 25 percent to 45 percent of executive teams tend to leave with them. Given that 20 percent of healthcare CEOs turned over in 2013, a lot of healthcare organizations can be left with a gap in leadership, Hurt pointed out. What does this mean for your HCP learners’ ability to put what they learn into practice?

5. Physician leadership is lacking.

More leadership issues: Physicians represent just 14 percent of C-suite hires, according to a recent study. When physicians are recruited for new positions, such as vice president of clinical transformation or informatics, they are often working collaboratively in those roles with other leaders. Also, although more care is being provided outside the hospital setting now, three-quarters of physicians may be employed in hospitals and other healthcare systems by 2020. This means there likely will be fewer private practices and specialty groups.

Hurt said that, according to the American Hospital Association Environmental Scan, physician leaders must drive a culture of accountability, commitment to care excellence, and continuous performance improvement. Do your activities address the need for these leadership qualities?

6. The New Patient and Payment Landscape

According to a 2015 study by the National Institutes for Health and Medline, 90 percent of American adults are healthcare illiterate to some extent. Another study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found that 90 percent of Americans need help understanding healthcare instructions, Hurt said.

But that doesn’t mean they don’t want to take ownership of their health. According to research conducted by Pew in 2013, 72 percent of Internet users say they have searched online for information concerning health issues, diseases, and treatments. Unfortunately, he added, the language of healthcare is not easy for laypeople to understand.

And understanding is not just key for patients who want to take more control of their own healthcare. Now that Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements often are based on the extent to which patients change their behavior, physicians can be denied payment for followup visits for patients who haven’t followed their treatment plan. “We’re moving to outcomes-based healthcare,” Hurt said. HCP continuing professional development must shift accordingly.

What other forces do you see driving changes in the way HCPs need to learn now?

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