• New developments in consolidation and integration of health care organizations
  • Payment reforms
  • New uses for data
  • New roles for CEOs
  • New applications for virtual health care services
  • The need for leadership by physicians and other direct caregivers
  • The increasingly diverse workforce and the rise of millennials in that workforce
  • Innovations in genomics and technology

SHSMD officials encourage organizations to use Futurescan as a precursor to their strategic planning discussions and for guidance on the issues they will need to address. Diane Weber, R.N., who joined the American Hospital Association’s professional organization for health care strategists as its executive director in 2012, recalled how that year’s edition of Futurescan correctly predicted that the increased demand of health care services by aging baby boomers would not have a corresponding increase in health care organization revenue. She also remembers a declaration that the “future is now” regarding physician employment.

But making predictions is not the purpose of the publication, Weber said. In these times of uncertainty, she explained that organizations have to continually refresh their strategic plans and treat them as “a living, breathing” document that evolves with the changing environment.

As an example of this, Weber cited the chapter on diversity written by former Institute for Healthcare Improvement president Maureen Bisognano, who wrote how millennials are now the largest segment of the health care workforce. Each generation has assets to offer, Bisognano wrote; organization leaders should not value one perspective over the other but, instead, strike a balance and leverage the strengths of everyone on staff.

“Appreciating the skills and assets each generation brings will help organizations thrive,” Weber said. She noted the tension between baby boomers who value a long-term relationship with an organization and millennials who are quick to move on to better opportunities.

“They’re not bored or lazy, they’re seeking new challenges and opportunities to build their resumes,” Weber said of millennials. If an organization wants to retain them, its leaders will have to “look for ways to keep the younger generation challenged and help them to develop new skills.”

The chapters were written by industry experts and include the results of a survey of industry executives conducted in June 2016. Weber noted that the survey results and the expert opinion don’t always match.

“Healthy disagreement is encouraged and we like it when authors are particularly provocative,” she said, adding that this was noticeably true of the chapter on biotechnology innovation written by futurist physician Peter Diamandis, M.D.

Diamandis had a higher opinion of the significance of machine learning and artificial intelligence than the 651 executives who responded to the survey. Executives said use of robots on hospital floors and for care at home was unlikely, but Diamandis predicted hospitals would have “a robot in every room” and that robots would allow seniors to remain in their homes and out of institutions.

“Many octogenarians leave the comfort and privacy of their homes to enter retirement communities because they are unable to get out of bed, go to the bathroom and take care of themselves,” Diamandis wrote. “Imagine a future in which robots will be able to assist them with these tasks with precision, privacy and comfort.”

Kenneth Kaufman, chairman of the Kaufman, Hall & Associates consulting firm, predicted that health care consolidation will continue, but in different ways than in the past. These “creative partnerships” will be structured to fill specific gaps in capabilities, resources, expertise or market position.  As a result, large health care organizations will have to function as operating companies rather than holding companies.

Peter Angood, M.D., president and CEO of the American Association for Physician Leadership, wrote about the value of physician leaders, the elevation of nurse practitioners and other clinicians into leadership roles, the need for physicians to receive training in leadership skills, and for physicians to move away from disease-focused care and become engaged in new models of patient-centric clinical care.

Weber said those who are closest to patients will have insights that others don’t, so having them serve as change agents is crucial.

Since 1999, SHSMD has been publishing Futurescan annually in collaboration with the American College of Healthcare Executives. This year’s edition is sponsored by Evariant.

Futurist Ian Morrison wrote the introduction for this year’s edition. Morrison led a webcast highlighting Futurescan’s predictions and strategies on Feb. 8.