2018 Healthcare Trends: Impacts On Military Beneficiaries

About the Author

Beasley retired from the U.S. Navy in 2009 after serving 30 years. As a career Navy Nurse Corps officer, she served in a wide variety of staff and leadership positions within the Navy and DoD. She has had assignments serving in large and small military treatment facilities, both stateside and abroad. Her clinical specialties have been in the surgical intensive care and surgical services as well as the ambulatory care areas. Her administrative emphasis has been in the managed care arena, TRICARE operations, and health care operational planning.

Beasley's leadership assignments include chief of staff of Naval Healthcare New England; director of Healthcare Operations at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md.; chief of staff for the Commanding General for the Multi-Service Market Area at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; and director of planning and support for the Navy Surgeon General.

Beasley is a native of St. Louis. She received her Bachelor of Science in nursing from the University of Tulsa in Oklahoma and a Master of Science in nursing and Master of Science in business administration from Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Mass. She is a Fellow in the American College of Healthcare Executives. She joined MOAA in September 2009.



January 19, 2018

As we begin 2018, we take a look at the past few years to predict some of the trends we might see in the health care environment this year.

In 2016, health care comprised 17.9 percent of the nation's GDP (up from 17.7 percent in 2015). Consumers continue to bear more of the costs of their care, which are passed on to them from their employers. According to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, U.S. households finance a little over 28 percent of the costs of health care and the rise in these costs increased an average of 4.3 percent in 2016 over the prior year. (A continued good-news story for military beneficiaries is that the percentage of health care costs in DoD's budget has remained stable or even decreased.) Controlling costs will continue to be important, and organizations and health plans will manage this in a variety of ways.

Here are four trend areas that will shape health care in 2018: 

Greater emphasis and reliance on technology: The use of various technologies will become even more pronounced as they become essential enablers in the expansion of access to care. The electronic health record (EHR) systems are proliferating in all practice environments. This will facilitate large amounts of health care data, “big data,” to be aggregated for better patient management and population health management and will enable tracking of care of individuals and groups. With DoD and the VA agreeing to use the same EHR, called Genesis, they now will be able to track servicemembers health outcomes longitudinally over time.

The use of mobile technologies will expand rapidly. Both providers and consumers continue to find new uses for digital health technology, such as fitness trackers, heart monitors, diabetic sugar monitors, and smartphone applications. Clinical research supports that consumers can experience better outcomes when they can track results and are better informed about health.

Collaboration and convergence of different health care industry sectors and players: Companies and organizations within the industry are discovering they alone cannot address large challenges such as cost containment, the opioid crisis, medical crises arising from natural disasters, etcetera. These challenges are best addressed by forming collaborative partnerships, alliances, and, sometimes, large mergers and acquisitions. Eliminating redundancies, improving return on capital, and providing efficient services for consumers are key objectives. For example, consider what industry dynamics will change because of the recent merger of CVS Pharmacy and the large health care insurer Aetna. 

Continued shift from volume to value: The goal in health care continues to be value over the volume of care. New models are being used and tested to provide better clinical outcomes for patients. There are increasing incentives under these new models; providers take on more risk, and with more risk and better outcomes come potentially higher payments. Couple the trend of value-based payments with improved clinical outcome transparency to others (competitors), and you could have some real game changers. DoD, in partnership with TRICARE contractors, has a few value-based pilot projects, and MOAA intends to follow these closely.

Rise of the consumer in health care: The market for health care will continue to become more competitive, which gives rise to the need for organizations, providers, and health plans to improve the patient experience. Again, mergers such as CVS and Aetna will have a great chance at this by establishing a more retail convenience experience for customers. This aspect has grown in importance, as consumers have more access to and choice of health care than ever before. Making appointments and communicating with providers is becoming more commonplace through online and mobile platforms, including TRICARE Online and RelayHealth for military beneficiaries. All generations are using these mechanisms, and communication and education through these platforms is essential.

Organizations and health systems already are competing for patients and are learning patients are educated and knowledgeable. What patients value - and MOAA surveys confirm - is easy access, a pleasant experience, and quality health care at a price that reflects their service and sacrifice to the nation.

Tell us what you think is important for your health care in 2018.


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