In the News: Feb 15–22

Broadband Partnership to Focus on Access to Cancer Care in Rural Areas

In a recent article, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Mignon Clyburn discussed the importance of closing the connectivity gap in rural areas of the US and the impact it could have on providers who use connected health technologies to care for cancer patients. They also noted that the FCC is devoting more money to expanding mobile broadband in rural areas and partnering with the National Cancer Institute to focus on the use of broadband connectivity to assist cancer patients.

The shortage of providers in rural areas has limited access to care. Health systems’ utilization of telemedicine has long been considered an effective way to increase access to care for this population. To learn more about serving rural populations while fueling downstream growth, check out the recent Sg2 expert insight, Help Rural Consumers and Fuel Downstream Growth With 4 Virtual Options.

National Health Spending to Reach $5.7 Trillion by 2026

A recent Health Affairs article projects national health spending to grow 5.5% annually on average between 2017 and 2026, reaching $5.7 trillion by 2026, which will represent 19.7% of the economy. The authors assert that spending growth will primarily be driven by economic and demographic factors, such as increases in prices of medical goods and services and shifts in private health insurance enrollment to Medicare as the population ages. Medicare in particular is expected to be a substantial contributor to overall health spending growth, due to projected increases in both the use and intensity of care.

As Medicare costs and enrollment grow in the next decade, Sg2 believes that payer mix deterioration will be an increasingly pressing problem for hospitals and health systems. To learn more about mitigating the effects of payer mix erosion, see the Sg2 Take-Action Guide on Payer Mix Erosion.

Opioid Epidemic Costs Continue to Rise, Impacting Vulnerable Populations

According to a new study, the opioid epidemic has cost the US more than $1 trillion since 2001, with expenses projected to exceed another $500 billion over the next 3 years. Health care expenses stemming from ED visits, ambulance costs and the use of naloxone to reverse the effects of an opioid overdose totaled more than $215 billion since 2001. Data also suggest that the costs incurred between 2011 and 2016 were double the rate of the previous 5 years.

The escalation in the opioid epidemic can be observed among pregnant women. Recent data show that from 2004 to 2013 US incidence of neonatal abstinence syndrome (NAS) increased by nearly 500%. Sg2 believes that health systems must develop or strengthen programs to address the unique challenges facing NAS patients and their families. To learn more about successful models for building a NAS System of CARE, read the Sg2 expert insight, Drug-Addicted Newborns: Mitigating the Risk Imposed by a National Epidemic.

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