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Emerging Trends in Hoosier Health Care and Life Sciences

In life, as in business, there is really only one fundamental truth that every individual must realize in order to maintain a high degree of success – change happens each and every day. In order for Hoosier industries to remain at the top of their game, they need to adapt themselves to the current demands of clients and the driving forces that effect their productivity.

Presently, there are numerous significant trends developing in Indiana’s health care industry that are likely going to reshape aspects of the medical field over the next several years. From the top down, nearly every attribute of Hoosier health care is constantly evolving. From the training and education methods of new caregivers, to the present health needs of Hoosier citizens, to the implementation of new treatment strategies – every Indiana physician, scientist and educator must adapt to the times in order to maintain the state’s outstanding record in the medical field.

In examining several of these key trends, a picture begins to emerge about the overall direction the industry is taking. Generally, these trends form a projection for a very bright future overall, but certainly require close attention from stakeholders to be firmly understood.

Changing Demographics in College Graduates

One of the essential elements that always impacts major industries throughout the state is the stream of talent produced by academic institutions. Presently, Indiana, as well as the rest of the United States, is in the midst of a demographic shift among college graduates; particularly with regard to gender.

Not long ago, the Bureau of Labor Statistics published a longitudinal study which found that American women born in the early 1980s are 33 percent more likely to have earned a college degree than their male contemporaries by the time they reach 27 years of age. By 2020, some estimates project that 2/3 of all college graduates will be women.

What makes these statistics compelling, however, is the fact that women in administrative roles throughout Indiana health care companies do not constitute a similar ratio of employment. In fact, many of the prominent corporate medical boards and C-suite executive positions have not yet attained a 50:50 ratio of males to females.

Over the next several years, with the demographic figures produced by Indiana schools, one can expect to see an increase in administrative training emerging among female and minority individuals within many of Indiana’s major medical corporations. These changes will certainly allow Indiana to increase diversity and global competitiveness over time.

Partnership for Patients

One of the ongoing movements currently taking place in medicine involves a widespread effort to improve patient safety and hospital quality. A national campaign called “Partnership for Patients” was created by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that resulted in 116 Indiana hospitals working with the Indiana Hospital Association (IHA) to form a statewide engagement network called “Coalition for Care.” These hospitals worked collaboratively on numerous patient safety efforts, and participated with the American Hospital Association’s Health Research and Educational Trust (HRET) in the initiative.

Members of the coalition undertook targeted training sessions offered by the IHA and HRET to address hospital readmissions, patient falls, family engagement and more over the last three years. Thus far, more than 3,800 health care providers have progressed through educational programs.

The end result has produced some interesting results. Franciscan Alliance, for example, received recognition from the IHA for its efforts in reducing instances of patient harm by 40 percent and readmissions by 20 percent at several of its hospitals over the last three years. Additionally, the health network’s Michigan City location was one of only 37 hospitals nationwide to receive Consumer Reports’ latest, highest rating for infection prevention.

Indiana Health Care Benefits, Shifting Focus

Late last year, results from the 2014 Indiana Health Care Survey reflected some interesting trends in health care benefits provided by many Hoosier employers. The study focused on Indiana businesses that offer health and welfare benefits and programs to at least 50 employees. Nyhart Actuary and Employee Benefits, Indiana’s largest independent actuarial firm, partnered with FirstPerson, Gregory & Appel Insurance, and Old National Insurance to conduct the survey.

Several important health care benefit trends were noted as follows:
  • Consumer-driven plan designs (HRA & HSA) continue to be more widely offered. 28.7% of employers in the study offer only consumer-driven plans.
  • Employee contributions continue to increase, although slower than in the past, at 4% for single coverage and 6% for family coverage.
  • 65% of employers offer incentives to employees who participate in wellness programming, and those incentive values have increased 40% to $720.00.
  • Salary increase budgets are projected to be around 3% in 2014.
  • The 2014 survey reviewed 279 Indiana-based employers’ health benefit plans, which included 511 health plans for more than 188,000 employees. Industries surveyed include for-profit, not-for-profit, government, and education entities.
Healthcare Agents and Eldercare Advocates are On the Rise

As the “baby boomer” generation ages, and the population of the state increases, health care providers are going to be faced with the largest percentage of elder Americans ever before seen in history. According to the U.S. Census, the percentage of seniors age 65 or older made up around 13 percent of the total population in 2010. This group’s population share is projected to increase in 2020 to 16 percent and in 2030 to 19.3 percent.

As the older generation approaches the transition of independent to assisted living, many families are going to be making complicated decisions with their doctors about the most appropriate living arrangements for their elder family members.

Thus emerges the new trend of health care agents, who serve as advisors when navigating the often overwhelming tasks of managing elder care. Treading through the paperwork of health care plans, Medicare and the vast array of options available for assisted living can seem like an insurmountable task for many families, especially when an older member is infirm.

The newly emerging position of a health care agent presents a unique business opportunity for members of the health and life sciences industries. Professionals such as pharmacists, nurses, insurance agents, and other healthcare experts can take advantage of the specialized niche that being a health care agent provides. Additionally, projections for this particular field reflect only growth potential and job security throughout the future in that this particular group of patients is only going to increase.

Home Health Care is Growing

Directly related to the previous section about eldercare and health care advisors is the industry subsector of home health care, which is also experiencing a marked increase in activity.

According to a report from Ball State’s Center for Business and Economic Research, “employment in Indiana’s home health care services subsector saw a 30.7 percent increase in 2009 from 2000, totaling 14,219 jobs. Additionally, Indiana saw an increase of 32.5 percent in terms of home health are establishments from 2000 to 2009.”

What makes these figures interesting is they were recorded right in the middle of the Great Recession, when many industries, including health care, saw a marked period of decline. Ball State reported that, “Despite recession, this sector has experienced stability in terms of number of jobs from 2000 to 2009 with very few peaks and troughs.” Now that the recession is over, one can only expect these figures to continue to grow.

Additionally, the average annual payroll for individuals employed in this subsector saw an increase of 39 percent during this same time period.

Constantly Evolving

The very nature of the health care industry is, in itself, a constantly evolving entity. Looking back through history, it’s easy to find amusement in the folly of some of medicine’s preceding approaches to the treatment of human illness – for example, leaches and bloodletting. But while these methods may seem silly to people today, they stand as a reminder that learning and adapting are the central attributes around which medicine revolves.

As these modern emerging trends in Hoosier health care become firmly engrained throughout the industry, they too will become part of the history of medicine’s growth and change. With continued interest, development and investment, every single one of these trends carries the potential to propel the industry further along its projected path of growth and innovation.

Category Cover Story, Features