There will be a lot more demand for vascular surgeons and cardiologists by 2025, according to a study in Health Affairs. At 31%, vascular surgery has the highest projected demand growth.

Demand will vary by state. So while there will be a 20–25% increase in demand for cardiology services nationally over the next decade, “the projected increase in demand ranges from 5% in West Virginia to 51% in Nevada,” the authors write.

Researchers constructed a model that takes into account a growing and aging population as well as better access to health care, thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The population is expected to grow 9.5% between 2013 and 2025, but the number of people 65 and older is expected to grow 45%.

Advances in technology will be one of the wild cards, say the authors, and “can lead to increased demand for services and providers (for example, new treatment options) as well as to reduce demand (such as cures for chronic conditions).”

They add that “the increased use of value-based insurance design and efforts to make patients and providers more cost-conscious might reduce demand for service.”

Projected growth in demand for full-time equivalent physicians in selected specialties, 2013–2025

Source: “An Aging Population and Growing Disease Burden Will Require a Large and Specialized Health Care Workforce by 2025,” Health Affairs, Nov. 2013.

Managed Care’s Top Ten Articles of 2016

There’s a lot more going on in health care than mergers (Aetna-Humana, Anthem-Cigna) creating huge players. Hundreds of insurers operate in 50 different states. Self-insured employers, ACA public exchanges, Medicare Advantage, and Medicaid managed care plans crowd an increasingly complex market.

Major health care players are determined to make health information exchanges (HIEs) work. The push toward value-based payment alone almost guarantees that HIEs will be tweaked, poked, prodded, and overhauled until they deliver on their promise. The goal: straight talk from and among tech systems.

They bring a different mindset. They’re willing to work in teams and focus on the sort of evidence-based medicine that can guide health care’s transformation into a system based on value. One question: How well will this new generation of data-driven MDs deal with patients?

The surge of new MS treatments have been for the relapsing-remitting form of the disease. There’s hope for sufferers of a different form of MS. By homing in on CD20-positive B cells, ocrelizumab is able to knock them out and other aberrant B cells circulating in the bloodstream.

A flood of tests have insurers ramping up prior authorization and utilization review. Information overload is a problem. As doctors struggle to keep up, health plans need to get ahead of the development of the technology in order to successfully manage genetic testing appropriately.

Having the data is one thing. Knowing how to use it is another. Applying its computational power to the data, a company called RowdMap puts providers into high-, medium-, and low-value buckets compared with peers in their markets, using specific benchmarks to show why outliers differ from the norm.
Competition among manufacturers, industry consolidation, and capitalization on me-too drugs are cranking up generic and branded drug prices. This increase has compelled PBMs, health plan sponsors, and retail pharmacies to find novel ways to turn a profit, often at the expense of the consumer.
The development of recombinant DNA and other technologies has added a new dimension to care. These medications have revolutionized the treatment of rheumatoid arthritis and many of the other 80 or so autoimmune diseases. But they can be budget busters and have a tricky side effect profile.

Shelley Slade
Vogel, Slade & Goldstein

Hub programs have emerged as a profitable new line of business in the sales and distribution side of the pharmaceutical industry that has got more than its fair share of wheeling and dealing. But they spell trouble if they spark collusion, threaten patients, or waste federal dollars.

More companies are self-insuring—and it’s not just large employers that are striking out on their own. The percentage of employers who fully self-insure increased by 44% in 1999 to 63% in 2015. Self-insurance may give employers more control over benefit packages, and stop-loss protects them against uncapped liability.