Those of you who lived through the last hard market with its increasing frequency and severity of claims may be having some unpleasant flashbacks. As we gaze into the crystal ball for the year ahead, we’re seeing concerning trends indicating at least a firming market in the U.S. Many factors are contributing to this changing situation, including the recent developments in the London and other reinsurance markets.
While history may be repeating itself on the business side, MPL companies find themselves facing a rapidly evolving healthcare environment with ever-changing issues and tools. Demand for healthcare continues to climb thanks to a growing, aging population. More and more patients are turning to nurse practitioners, physician assistants, and other professionals for their care.
Patients are looking for access, and with alternative models of care delivery—telehealth and retail health clinics for example—comes new risk exposures. What does the doctor-patient relationship look like in these models? How do all of these new normals change the standard of care?
Technology and telemedicine are offering much-needed access to healthcare, particularly for those in underserved areas. Quicker, potentially more accurate diagnoses supported by tools ranging from complex artificial intelligence interfaces to more simple wearable devices that track and transmit patient data are poised to influence care delivery in 2020. Electronic health records will be the underpinning of these technologies. More accessible patient information, better coordination of care, and reduced errors are only some of the benefits of these systems.
MPL companies, however, will continue to look for the unintended consequences—cybersecurity and privacy concerns, among others—and how we can best manage the impacts on our business in the months and years ahead. On a basic level, electronic records capture enormous amounts of data regarding patient care, making it easier to gather facts for claims and other purposes. Arguably this could also make litigation more attractive. Globally, data security will become critical for providers and health systems as they try to protect patient information from increasingly sophisticated cyber criminals.
Affordability of healthcare will continue to be an issue. With patient out-of-pocket spending more than doubling in the last five years, some are in the troubling position of choosing rent or heat over medical treatment. In 2020 we will still be seeing ongoing efforts to reconcile the interests of those who provide care with those of patients, and those who pay (federal and state as well as private employers and patients paying out of pocket).
All of this will be happening at the same time as the U.S. national elections. We are hopeful that, whether
it’s the status quo or fundamental change, our efforts to support tort reform in the states will continue to progress while we advance and defend our members’ interests in Washington, D.C. Your support around the country and nationally will be key.
Members of this association have worked through past turbulent markets to emerge into sustained periods of stability and profitability. For our part, the MPL Association is here with the resources and knowledge-sharing opportunities you can use as you navigate the months ahead, making informed decisions to support your business and those you insure and indemnify.