Pricewaterhouse Coopers Forecasts Top Health IT Trends

Analyst firm predicts that the industry will undergo an extreme strategy makeover in 2011, due to federal mandates, continuing cost pressures, and consumer demands.
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Mergers & Acquisitions To Fill Gaps

M&A activity among all the healthcare sectors is expected to continue to trend upward in 2011. Within the pharmaceutical and life sciences sectors, PwC expects deals to focus on strategic mid-market transactions valued between $100 million and $500 million; international growth could yield larger transactions.

Increased consolidation is expected among payers, physicians aligning with hospitals, and hospitals merging with other hospitals and health systems, and recent deals reflect blurring of the lines between payers and providers.

Competition for acquisitions is likely to come from private equity funds investing in healthcare. Though consumers are wary of the benefits of M&A, many seem open to new provider alliances. Seventy-eight percent of consumers said they would rather use a retail clinic partnered with a local hospital for primary care services, versus only 22% who would prefer an independent company.

Consumer Demand For 'Always On' Healthcare

The mobile health market is growing exponentially as health organizations use wireless and remote technology to interact with patients anytime, anywhere. To influence patient outcomes, organizations have to engage patients and understand how to connect with them.

Healthcare organizations are spending significant resources to produce online content, yet PwC found that consumers are 3.5 times more likely to go to the media and third-party information service companies for information about treatments and conditions, than to any other site, especially pharmaceutical company Web sites.

Only 11% of the people PwC surveyed said they would go to a pharmaceutical company for health information. Pharmaceutical companies have typically been removed from their product end users, but by understanding online preferences and adopting multi-channel strategies to meet consumers on their terms, pharmaceutical companies see an opportunity to significantly increase their visibility.