The pressure to improve those metrics starts with employers, which have finally decided that value and quality are the way to judge health insurance coverage for their employees. Employees themselves, footing more of the bill, are turning a more critical eye on their consumption of healthcare services.
Meanwhile, the oddfellows unions in healthcare continue to pop up. It's early in the game, so it remains to be seen whether any of these unorthodox tie ups that amount to vertical realignment—between hospitals and health plans, physician practices and hospitals, and even for-profit and nonprofit hospital companies joining together—will be successful at improving value or cutting costs.
But you can bet many of them will be successful from a business point of view. Does that mean they will ultimately drive down costs? Maybe not. In other industries, size and scale have become important not only for cost savings, but for negotiating healthy price increases as well.
All of which leads me to whether any of this is going to be enough to overcome the annual double digit increases in healthcare costs. That's still a long way from being decided, but I'd put a lot more of my chips behind it now that value has finally become important in shopping for healthcare—whether you're an individual, an employer, a hospital, physician group practice or health plan.