As a field we are still on the journey from volume to value. The emphasis on the integration of value-based care into payment reform efforts will increasingly affect all stakeholders. It will drive movement toward a common set of metrics that will constitute the value and quality provided. It will require a comprehensive data strategy to assess performance and analyze different risk-sharing models and ultimately move to enhanced models of care.

— MaryJane Wurth, executive vice president, American Hospital Association

Science & Technology

  • Health care economists estimate that 40 to 50 percent of annual health care cost increases can be traced to new technologies or the intensified use of old ones. That makes the control of technology the most important factor in bringing the costs down. Ethics comes in at this point because medical technology is highly valued as a beloved feature of American medicine. Patients expect it, doctors are primarily trained to use it, companies make billions of dollars selling it, and the media love to write about it. The economic and social incentives to develop and diffuse it are powerful. Technological innovation is as fundamental a feature of American medicine as it is of our industrial sector.1
  • In 2016, millions of American consumers will have their first video consults, be prescribed their first health apps and use their smartphones as diagnostic tools for the first time. These new experiences will begin to make real the dream of care anywhere, anytime, changing consumer expectations and fueling innovation.2
  • The Food and Drug Administration’s approval of new pharmaceuticals reached an all-time high in 2014 with 41 new agents. Many (22 percent) are designated as “breakthrough therapies” by the FDA because preliminary clinical evidence indicates that these drug products may substantially improve at least one clinically significant endpoint compared with other available therapies. Approval of “novel new drugs” are predicted to jump 67 percent by the end of 2015.3
  • Behavioral health care providers also are using technology to conduct virtual visits directly with patients. In 2014, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs delivered 325,000 behavioral telehealth visits to more than 100,000 veterans at local community-based clinics using videoconferencing. These services reduced psychiatric admissions by 24 percent.2
  • Some clinicians will begin work in new “bedless” hospitals and virtual care centers, overseeing scores of patients in far-flung locations. Fueled by alternative payment models, technological advances and powerful new database tools, these new ways of delivering care will spread. Care delivery will begin to change.2

2017 AHA Environmental Scan

Download the complete 2017 AHA Environmental Scan PDF sponsored by B. E. Smith.


  1. “Health Care Costs and Medical Technology,” excerpted from From Birth to Death and Bench to Clinic: The Hastings Center Bioethics Briefing Book for Journalists, Policymakers, and Campaigns, by Daniel Callahan, pp 79-82
  2. “Top Health Industry Issues of 2016: Thriving in the New Health Economy,” Health Research Institute, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Dec. 2015
  3. “Pharmacy Forecast 2016-2020,” ASHP Foundation, Dec. 2015