The new Trump administration will have a negligible effect on healthcare information technology policy, believes John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research.
Analysts at Chilmark—a firm that focuses exclusively on health IT—met recently to discuss potential policy changes under Trump’s presidency. Overall, Moore says the consensus is that the impact will be modest.
Moore contends that in the recent past, HIT adoption has been closely linked to federal policies, which will not change substantially as Trump replaces Obama in the Oval Office. However, mandated models and regulatory enforcement to solve what’s ailing healthcare will not be a priority as it was during the past eight years, he adds.
“They’ll be looking more towards market forces to drive things forward,” asserts Moore. As an example, he points to industry efforts—not the government—to solve the challenges of health IT interoperability and data exchange. “It’s going to be up to the private sector to find the business reasons to do it,” according to Moore.
“While a Trump administration might back off on regulatory solutions to problems,” adds Moore, “the migration to value-based care, the need to control costs, and getting patients more involved in their healthcare is not going to stop.”
As a result, he argues that the need to improve costs and quality metrics will continue to drive healthcare organizations to develop long-term IT investment strategies in line with ongoing delivery system reform. Moore is advising healthcare organization to move ahead with IT strategies—don’t wait for the “dust to settle” in Washington before embarking on that path.
When it comes to technology supporting value-based care, Moore sees healthcare analytics as the big winner with Trump in the White House, as healthcare organizations look to optimize costs, operations and patient care. Providers “will still need to continue to increase their investments in analytics to rein in costs and improve quality,” he wrote in a November 14 blog posting.
“Organizations really have got to get a handle as to how they’re operating and where their costs and risks are,” Moore adds. “Right now, we’re just in the infancy of using analytics in healthcare.”
Moore predicts that consumer engagement will be another big winner. As tax breaks for health savings accounts increase, consumers will seek out value, and the federal government will push for price and quality transparency. “The move to a more consumer-driven market will also herald yet another round of investments in new care delivery models and software to support” this transformation, he says.
At the same time, however, Moore projects that electronic health records will be the big loser over the next four years, as government incentives wind down and providers are reluctant to replace EHR systems because of the prohibitive costs of switching vendors.
“The HITECH Act stimulus funding—that’s over, it’s done,” he concludes, estimating that the EHR market will be flat to negative. “There’s no more spend coming there. The EHRs have been installed, by and large. And most providers are loath to switch out the EHR that they have because the costs are too high to bother with it. So they’re going to stick with what they’ve got.”
As far as the Affordable Care Act is concerned, Moore doesn’t believe it will be completely repealed but will be modified over time. “Trump came in as a populist on a populist vote, and the last thing he’s going to do is throw 20 million people out on the street and say ‘go buy your own insurance.’ ”
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