Five Top Trends in the Healthcare Industry …and the Opportunities they Present for Consulting Firms

Posted by Shari Gardner on July 9, 2018

PwC’s Healthcare Research Institute recently published a report, “Top Health Industry Issues of 2018: A Year for Resilience Amid Uncertainty” that highlights the top trends impacting the healthcare industry. Here we look at five of these trends and the opportunities they present for healthcare consulting firms.

Trend 1: Securing the Internet of Things

Today many hospitals have thousands of medical devices connected to their networks. This poses a risk because each connected device is a potential door for cybercriminals. PwC’s GSISS survey found that just 64% of providers and payers have performed a risk assessment of connected devices to find security vulnerabilities – and of those only half have put security controls in place. Should a breach happen, in addition to lost revenue from business disruption – the cost to the organization’s reputation could be great.

The Opportunity: Cybersecurity Services, Healthcare Risk & Compliance Services, Technology & Digital Services

With cybersecurity breaches on the rise, hospitals and health systems must be prepared. Many companies lack in-house cybersecurity experts and will need to rely on external experts. They will need help with planning, audits, testing and response plans so they are prepared if devices go down. Policies must be established for internet-connected devices and staff must be trained on security practices. They must also ensure they have purchasing controls and strict networking rules in place to help them manage and control device security.

Trend 2: Meet Your New Coworker, Artificial Intelligence

As in other industries, artificial intelligence is gaining momentum across the healthcare industry. Healthcare businesses are using artificial intelligence to automate repetitive tasks, create financial and tax reporting efficiencies, automate parts of the supply chain and streamline regulatory compliance. Processes once done exclusively by humans are being automated by Robotic process automation (RPA). AI tools are also being leveraged to help healthcare staff analyze routine pathology or radiology results more quickly and accurately, allowing them to see more patients and realize greater revenues. Some processes are more easily automated than others, but even partial automation can help employees make better use of their time and expertise.

The Opportunity: Operations/Business Process Services, Technology & Digital Services

According to PwC’s GSISS survey, although three-quarters of health executives plan to invest in AI in the next three years, many lack the ability to implement it. Just 20 percent of respondents said they had the technology to succeed with AI. One critical area of importance for AI is data; companies will need to look at how their systems are capturing, integrating, storing and analyzing data – to ensure that this is done in a way that allows it to be integrated with relevant systems. Repetitive tasks such as scheduling, timesheet entry, and accounting will need to be automated with AI tools. To tackle these challenges, healthcare businesses will need to partner with technology firms and others with outside expertise.

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Trend 3: Tax Reform Moves Forward

The tax reform recently passed by Congress included a corporate tax rate reduction and shift to a territorial system. It also included a one-time opportunity for US companies to repatriate their historic foreign earnings held overseas back to the US at a special tax rate. This will have a big impact on the industry since healthcare companies hold more foreign earnings overseas than all other industries, second only to technology companies.

The Opportunity: Tax & Accounting Advisory Services, Operations/Business Process Services

Tax changes will require healthcare organizations to develop new strategies and rethink current business models and supply chains. Companies will be looking at options for deploying repatriated cash, and evaluating how other changes, such as expensing depreciating assets or charitable giving, might impact them. Healthcare businesses will need to audit their financial systems to determine what changes need to be made and how their systems need to be updated to capture required information as tax provisions go into effect.

Trend 4: The Patient Experience becomes a Strategic Priority

According to PwC’s GSISS survey, forty-nine percent of healthcare provider executives said revamping the patient experience is one of their organization’s top three priorities over the next five years. Many already have or are building the role of chief patient experience officer and intend to use patient experience as a way to differentiate themselves in the market.

The Opportunity: Healthcare Analytics/BI Services, Patient Experience Research Services, Technology & Digital Services

Finding a way to harness the power of data will play a big part in improving the patient experience. Many health organizations today provide services such as online bill pay, scheduling, 24 hour nurse hotlines, and digital communications. But connecting the dots is often difficult and will require the help of data specialists. Patients are generating reams of data about their lives through wearables, pharmaceutical apps and spending habits. Providers say, however, they lack the data to understand different patient segments and struggle to aggregate data from multiple sources. Improving the patient experience will require strong organizational strategies, integrating disparate data sets, establishing ownership and governance, and leveraging data in a way it provides actionable insights for improvement. Moving to cloud-based technology solutions can help businesses differentiate themselves in the market by enabling them to roll out new patient services more quickly.

Trend 5: Preparing for Natural Disasters and their Aftermath

Natural disasters such as the hurricanes, wildfires, flooding, and severe winter storms can wreak havoc on health systems and manufacturing operations. During a natural disaster healthcare systems face closure, supply chains and operations are disrupted, physical assets are damaged, and workforces and patients are displaced. In the last five years, disasters have cost the US between $18 billion and $200 billion. At $195 billion, 2017 was the costliest year and came in at 5 times the cost of 2016!

The Opportunity: Operations/Business Process Services, Disaster Recovery Services, Healthcare Finance/Compliance/Risk Services, Turnaround & Restructuring Services

Health organizations will need help planning for potential disasters and how to handle their aftermath with patients, employees, insurers and other critical audiences. They need operational and logistics planning, extensive coordination with the communities in which they operate, and detailed backup plans to keep healthcare going. They need financial experts to help plan for a potential loss of revenue and marketshare in the wake of serious damage, and also to ensure there is enough cash on hand to remain financially stable during and after a disaster. On an on-going basis they also need to evaluate their insurance coverage, limitations, deductibles and other risk areas to ensure they can handle a major event.

To accomplish these challenges, minimize risk and ensure backup for mission-critical applications in the event of a natural disaster, companies are moving to the cloud. Working with a reputable cloud-based technology provider can ensure contractual guarantees on performance and security.

Summary and Next Steps

Moving to a modern PSA/ERP cloud-based technology solution can help businesses secure their networks and devices, more easily consume emerging technologies like AI and robotics, harness the power of big data, improve financial performance and protect against natural disasters.

When looking for a technology solutions provider for you and your clients, it is important to partner with one that has deep experience in your industry sectors and enables you to transition to cloud technology solutions at a lower risk and higher velocity.

As a proven leader in Professional Services Automation (PSA) and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for project-based businesses across many industries, including consulting, Deltek has been recognized by both Gartner and IDC as a leader in cloud-enabled PSA ERP Applications.

To learn more about Deltek cloud-based PSA/ERP solutions designed for the consulting industry visit https://www.deltek.com/en/industries/it-consulting. Deltek solutions have built-in workflows, templates, and dashboards - all designed for the way consulting firms operate.

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