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PwC Health Research Institute Predicts Industry Trends for 2018
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PwC Health Research Institute Predicts Industry Trends for 2018
Emiline LaWall, Communications Committee

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PWC) has some phenomenal resources for healthcare leaders looking to set strategic goals for their organization over the next calendar year.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) is a multinational professional services network that supports executive leaders by synthesizing research, policy, and subject-matter expertise to identify industry trends. PwC has resources available for professionals in a multitude of industries, including: banking, media, hospitality, real-estate, and technology (among others).  They also offer several niche health-care resources including information on Health Industries, Health Services, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The PwC Health Research Institute recently published a report outlining the “Top Health Industry Issues of 2018.” This is the twelfth annual report published by the organization, and it can be found in full here.


The PwC identified several focus areas for healthcare leaders to consider in 2018, highlighted above (source: PwC Health Resesarch Institute).

Resilience in the New Year

One overarching theme is resilience during a state of perpetual policy change. The PwC predicts healthcare reform will occur via iterative changes at the state and congressional level, rather than comprehensive national reform.  The implication of this is that healthcare organizations, payers and providers will “no longer have one high-profile reform to effort to monitor, but dozens.” (Isgur et al, 2015).  

Outside of healthcare reform, PwC cited extreme weather events from 2017 that are sure to shape strategies in 2018. Organizations are encouraged to identify contingency plans for natural disasters by identifying “lessons-learned” from still-recovering sites like Puerto Rico, Texas, Florida, and California. As leaders, we must identify ways to continue to provide patient care, even in trying circumstances. In a separate article, author Tayla Holman discussed how telehealth was used as a way to provide services to residents who were impacted by Hurricanes Harvey and Irma (2017). More details on how this was implemented at Nemours Children’s Health System can be found here (Sunter, 2017).    

Cyber-Security breaches in 2017 are considered to be “non-natural” disaster that is also shaping the healthcare industry. According to the PwC report, more than 140 million people had personal information exposed to hackers. The major vulnerability for most organizations is biomedical devices. According a recent Global State of Information Security Survey (GSISS), only 64% of responding healthcare organizations have “conducted a risk assessment of their [biomedical] devices—only 55% of those organizations have put security controls in place” (Bresnick, 2017). This risk is expected to grow exponentially, especially as employees and patients increasingly use personal mobile devices to access electronic personal health information, or ePHI (Snell, 2017).   

Increased Focus on Social Determinants

            With regard to patient care, one overarching theme emerged in the PwC report: increased focus on understanding social determinants of health. Leaders are encouraged to identify novel strategies to address the non-clinical factors that impact an individual’s health care utilization patterns. These patient social factors (e.g., education, income, and housing) may be a key aspect of moving care more upstream to primary care settings, rather than the more costly alternative of ED admissions. However, these challenges have been difficult to address because social information is often not collected in the electronic health record, subsequently often goes un-reported to health care executives. According to PwC, 78% of executives lack robust information on the social needs of their patients (Berg et al, 2017).

            These social determinants may also be instrumental in addressing the opioid crisis in the United States. There were over 64,000 overdose deaths that involved a prescription opioid in the United States in 2016, and numbers for 2017 are anticipated to be even higher (CDC, 2017). Understanding population- and community-level statistics around social determinants pertaining to addiction and overdose may foster cross-organizational strategies for reducing opioid dependence and overdose.

            There are several methods available to collecting this data on social determinants, such as having patients generate and submit information through personal devices, extracting information from other public health sectors (e.g., census data), or changing provider workflows to collect this information more regularly. The larger challenge will be synthesizing and standardizing this data to make it actionable. The PwC predicts that Artificial Intelligence (AI) will increasingly be used to supplement various analytic tasks, including data aggregation and predictive analytics.

Other Resources for the New Year:

2018 promises to be an exciting year with burgeoning technology and perpetual policy change. Thankfully, our industry has a reputation for creative problem solving, adaptive learning, and an earnest desire to look out for our patients’ best interests.

Looking for additional resources to help navigate the new year? Here are a few more organizations who have anticipated industry trends of 2018:

-          American Healthcare Association: 2018 Environmental Scan

-          Healthcare Executive Group: Top 10 Challenges for 2018

-          Managed Health care Executives: Health IT Trends Forecast



1.     Berg et al (2017).  Top health industry issues of 2018: A year for resilience amid uncertainty. PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Publishing. Retrieved December 9th, 2017 from:

2.     Bresnick, J (2017). PwC: Artificial Intelligence, IoT, Population Health Top 2018 Trends. HealthITAnalytics. Retrieved December 09, 2017 from:

3.     Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Provisional Counts of Drug Overdose Deaths, as of 8/6/2017. Retrieved December 7, 2017 from:

4.     Holman, T (2017). 2017 Hurricanes show importance of telehealth in a disaster. Retrieved December 09, 2017 from:

5.     Isugar, B., Tsouderos, T., Gaffney, A., Ranville, J., & Bailey, C. (2017).  Health reform 3.0: Thriving in a permanent state of policy disruption. Retrieved December 09, 2017 from:

6.     Snell, E. (2017)., Top Tips for Mobile Device Security, Keeping ePHI Secure. HealthIT Security.  Retrieved December 09, 2017 from:

7.     Sunter, S. (n.d.). Telemedicine pediatrics is focus of new telehealth provider offering. Retrieved December 09, 2017, from