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In the News: Feb 20–27

Increases in Commercial Costs Impact Patients

A recent FierceHealthcare article highlights a new Health Care Cost Institute report outlining the growth of health care prices for people with employer-sponsored health insurance. Based on over 2.5 billion claims from 40 million people between 2014 and 2018, costs grew by 4.3%, though growth is slowing.

According to the report, the growth in cost is primarily driven by increased pricing and, to some extent, service utilization. Prices accounted for three-quarters of spending growth between 2014 and 2018, with the largest price increases attributed to outpatient services, which have risen 5.7% since 2017. Additionally, the study found people between the ages of 25 and 44 are contributing most to the spending, though people aged 55 to 64 are spending the highest amounts. Differences did not just present themselves between age groups, however—the study also reported that for people aged 25 to 44, women spent almost double the amount on health care on average compared to men.

Health care cost has been at the forefront of the nation’s mind as of late, causing much discussion among those in the health care industry. To learn more about the changes in health care and their potential impact on strategy, please listen to Episode 1 of Sg2’s new podcast, Sg2 Perspectives, entitled “Grill Bill.”


Urgent Care Has Saturated Urban Markets

A recent Managed Care article discusses how urgent care clinics are overpopulating urban areas like New York City and Chicago, and the market for urgent care in places like these has become overcompetitive, with clinics struggling to make a profit. Investors in primary care clinics are now looking to move into more rural, tertiary markets to compete for patients.

In order to break even, an urgent care clinic needs to see at least 30 patients a day, which has proven more difficult with the saturation of urgent cares in certain markets. However, it is believed the patient demand for urgent care centers is still strong. Finding easy access to care that does not require a primary care visit has become increasingly popular, and many health systems have formed partnerships with urgent cares to capture this market. These partnerships allow health systems to retain patients or even gain new ones within their networks, all while providing a stronger continuity of care.

Creating the right partnerships can help expand patient accessibility, improve care quality and boost revenue for your provider organization. Following these new business endeavors can be a challenging process, and knowing where to expand access for patient care is crucial to strategic development. For more information on growing these access channels across your organization, please read the Sg2 report Expanding Access Channels to Drive Growth.


Maternity Care Outcomes Differ in Rural Areas

The Institute for Health Care Improvement (IHI) recently released a new report called Providing Safe, High-Quality Maternity Care in Rural US Hospitals. Rural health care organizations face challenges related to socioeconomic, demographic, geographic and limited workforce factors, and there are substantial differences in health outcomes for patients in rural areas compared to urban areas in the US, especially in maternity care.

The IHI report not only identifies gaps in the rural health care system, it provides effective, evidence-based approaches to addressing these gaps in care and offers strategic recommendations for how to provide high-quality maternity care in rural communities, one of which includes the utilization of virtual health.

Virtual health is rapidly gaining traction in women’s health, especially as organizations look to increase access to women’s health services. To learn strategic recommendations for long-term success of virtual services in women’s health, please read Sg2’s Virtual Health Newsletter Virtual Health Takes Hold in the Women’s Health Space.

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