Thursday, October 4, 2007

An Important and Disciplined Review of the Health Care Marketplace--The Latest Site Visit Report From 12 Markets

Good health care market intelligence is hard to come by. Information tends to come in the form of detailed and narrow, often backward looking, surveys that give us little texture for what key players are thinking. Or, at the other extreme, market information is often based on a relatively few almost random anecdotal impressions by "experts" as they do their work in the market.

The highly respected Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC) has been conducting detailed and disciplined surveys of 12 metropolitan health care markets since 1996. HSC's work gives us a perspective into the U.S. health care market unlike anything I know of. For more than ten years, they have used the same techniques to drill down into these markets talking to insurers, employers, providers, and other key players. As a result, they can give us a historical perspective and objective analysis like no one else I know of.

Their latest report is now available and required reading for anyone in this business.

Here is a quick summary of their findings taken from the report's abstract:
  • Little has changed in local health care markets since 2005 to break the cycle of rising costs, falling insurance coverage and widening access inequities.
  • Intense competition among hospitals and physicians for profitable specialty services continues.
  • Employers and health plans are looking to consumers to take more responsibility for medical costs, lifestyle choices and treatment decisions.
  • While consumer-directed health plans have not gained widespread adoption, other developments—including a heightened emphasis on prevention and wellness, along with nascent provider cost and quality information—are advancing health care consumerism.
  • However, concerns exist about whether these efforts will slow cost growth enough to keep care affordable or whether the growing problem of affordability will derail efforts to decrease the rising number of uninsured Americans and stymie meaningful health care reform.
If you are in this business, you need to read this report. The six page report of initial findings is very efficiently done. You can access it here.
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