Five big healthcare business trends for 2019

By Physician Sense, for MDLinx
Published December 4, 2018

Key Takeaways

With 2018 nearly in the rearview mirror, it’s worth taking a look ahead to 2019. The new year is shaping up to be another exciting and somewhat volatile chapter in the history of the healthcare business. Policy debates, emerging research, and new technologies will have direct impact on the frontline of care. Here are the healthcare business trends doctors will likely be hearing a great deal about in the new year.

CMS Fee Schedule

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has modified its decision on evaluation and management (E&M) codes. Earlier this year, CMS had proposed condensing eight rates into two, which sparked blowback from American physician groups.

Under the initial proposal, the second of the two new rates, which generally applies to very ill patients seen by specialists, came with lower reimbursement. CMS has since pivoted, but only slightly. Now, level 2-4 codes will be combined into one rate in 2021.

So, is this the final word on CMS fees? Not really. The American Medical Association will use the two-year reprieve to scrutinize the proposal. It’s safe to assume there will be future requests for changes, making this one of the healthcare business trends worth following.

5G

Move over, 4G LTE. Make way for 5G. Remember Nokia, the company that made the rad 3310 phone that you used to play Snake on, back in the ‘90s? They’re alive and well, and apparently pumping out 5G infrastructure in Finland. Since 2016, they’ve been testing 5G functionality at a small hospital there.

5G has massive implications for the Internet of Things (IoT). With faster download and upload speeds, less lag, and higher capacity, breakthroughs will take place in American healthcare. A surgeon could one day operate, using the da Vinci system, on a patient in another state while receiving live video and audio feeds, in addition to haptic feedback.

A recent Nokia white paper projects mainstream 5G use by 2020, making it one of the healthcare business trends worth watching. 

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