The Healthcare Landscape in 2020

By Khatereh Calleja, J.D., President and CEO of Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA)

Key trends to watch

The year 2019 was a busy one for the healthcare sector. Policymakers on Capitol Hill explored solutions to a variety of healthcare issues ranging from drug pricing to the opioid crisis. Natural disasters have strained the resources of healthcare providers across the country and exacerbated ongoing critical prescription drug shortages.

The Healthcare Supply Chain Association (HSCA) represents the nation’s leading healthcare group purchasing organizations (GPS), the sourcing and purchasing partners to virtually all of America’s 7,000-plus hospitals, as well as the vast majority of the 68,000-plus long-term care facilities, surgery centers, clinics, and other healthcare providers. Given our unique line of sight over the entire healthcare supply chain and our experience working on the front lines of the healthcare industry, HSCA has an intimate understanding of the challenges the healthcare industry will continue to face as it enters the 2020.

Here are a few of the trends we are seeing as well as areas of focus and policy priorities that HSCA will continue to pursue in the coming year:

Drug shortages

Ongoing critical prescription drug shortages continue to be a public health crisis and endanger patient care. As the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has noted, drug shortages are a complex problem that requires a multi-stakeholder solution. HSCA supports bipartisan legislation called the MEDS Act, which provides the FDA with additional authority to address drug shortages, strengthens manufacturing reporting requirements and develops new market-based incentives to help ensure a stable supply of critical prescription drugs. This bill will help provide significant relief for patients struggling to access their medications.

In 2019, HSCA submitted comments to Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) providing recommendations on ways to help control narcotics abuse while also protecting provider access to injectable opioids that are critical to patient care. HSCA also weighed in with FDA as the Agency continues to foster improvements to medical device sterilization processes and work to reduce the healthcare industry’s use of Ethylene Oxide (EtO) for sterilization. As we begin a new year, HSCA will continue to support the MEDS Act and work with policymakers to pursue solutions to prevent and mitigate drug shortages.

Drug pricing and generic drug competition

Significant price spikes for critical generic drugs and ongoing prescription drug shortages continue to jeopardize patient access to affordable healthcare. Patients have long relied on generic drugs to reduce costs and increase access to essential medications, and price spikes for commonly used drugs create hardship for patients and providers alike.HSCA supported the CREATES Act, which was ultimately passed at the end of 2019 as part of Congress’ year-end spending legislation. The CREATES Act encourages generic drug competition and will help end anti-competitive abuses utilized by some brand name manufacturers. In the year ahead, HSCA will continue to advocate for policy solutions that increase competition and foster innovation throughout the marketplace.

Emergency preparedness

In 2019, the country experienced a wave of natural disasters and other emergencies that put stress on hospitals and healthcare providers as they served affected communities. GPOs were on the front lines of those emergencies, providing support to healthcare providers and working with manufacturers to identify and locate supplies of much-needed resources. As we enter 2020, HSCA will work with lawmakers and healthcare supply chain stakeholders to provide key insights into improving emergency preparedness and offer strategic policy recommendations that will enable the healthcare industry to continue to provide top-quality care to patients in every situation.

Healthcare data standards

In an increasingly connected world, healthcare supply chain data standards play a critical role in helping to deliver important supply chain data to clinicians and patients. In 2019, HSCA’s Committee for Healthcare eStandards (CHeS) submitted comments to the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) providing recommendations on healthcare supply chain data standards to help improve accuracy, efficiency, and patient safety. HSCA will continue to advocate for policies that accelerate the adoption, implementation, and active usage of industry-wide data standards for improving efficiencies throughout the supply chain.

As we head into 2020, HSCA and its members remain committed to helping hospitals and healthcare providers deliver the most effective and affordable care possible to the patients they serve.

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