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Hot Topics in Health Care for 2017

If there’s one thing we can anticipate in 2017, it’s that it will be an interesting year in health care. Here are five key topics I’ll be keeping an eye on.
 
  1. Affordable Care Act. Will they or won’t they repeal? How will they replace it? What will be the fallout? I have no intention of predicting what will happen in our increasingly unpredictable world. One thing I will say is that it is going to be pretty difficult to provide cheaper health insurance to all Americans without a single-payer system, reduced free market incentives in health care, and health insurance mandates, none of which will likely happen. I’ve written a couple of blogs on the potential implications of repealing the ACA, but for the best analysis I recommend visiting the Kaiser Family Foundation and The Commonwealth Fund websites.

  2. Electronic health records. Will this be the year we figure out how to fix the electronic health record (EHR)? The weaknesses are many – interfering with patient/provider relationships; disrupting provider workflow; contributing to alert fatigue. But the potential is enormous. Mining the data in the EHR and other databases can identify community-based health problems for intervention, determine best practices for patient subsets (what is the best treatment for stage 2 prostate cancer in a 53-year-old white man who smokes?), and enable proactive interventions at the individual patient level. A good EHR system can also increase patient involvement in their own health and medical care.

  3. Technology in medicine. The technization (yes, I made up that word) of health care continues with apps, virtual medicine, and increasingly connected digital devices. But forget about new versions of fitness trackers. Today’s tech companies are focusing on products to reduce costs – critical in the value-based system that is emerging. Here’s a good overview on the topic.

  4. Genomics, proteomics. With the cost of sequencing an entire genome now less than $1,000, the promise of personalized medicine is becoming reality. Look for the one-size-fits-all practice of medicine to shift. Obese? A prescription for diet and exercise may not be enough given your genetic makeup. High cholesterol? Maybe it’s related to your genes, and you need more than just a statin. Lung cancer? You’re probably not going to get a treatment plan until your doctor knows more about the molecular fingerprint of the tumor.

  5. Value-based reimbursement. Regardless of what happens with the ACA, the shift from a fee-for-service system to one based on value (quality + outcomes/cost) will continue. Bundled payments are increasingly the norm for joint replacements and some other procedures and conditions; hospital reimbursement is based on outcomes, including readmissions and hospital-acquired complications like infections; and with the advent of MACRA, doctors will see their entire payment world – and even the way they practice medicine – shift.
I could list 20 other things to watch in 2017, but I need to keep this newsletter manageable. If you have other ideas you’d like to see me blog about, please email me.


Interesting Projects

Can I just say how much I love my job? I’ve been freelancing for 17 years now, and the sheer variety of work and topics never ceases to amaze me. Upcoming for 2017: blogging about sustainable philanthropy in health care and its role in population health management; articles about policy issues in the world of rehabilitative medicine; a CME project on cryptogenic stroke; and a white paper on atypical femur fractures.
 
 
Meeting Coverage

I’m planning meeting coverage for 2017. Here’s what I have scheduled so far. If you need coverage at ACOG or ESHRE (sorry, ASCO is full) – or any others – drop me a line.

I can provide journalistic reporting, competitive intelligence, meeting summaries, and whatever else you may need someone on site for.
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). May 6-9, 2017. San Diego, California
  • American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO). June 2-6, 2017. Chicago, Illinois.
  • European Society of Human Reproduction and Embryology (ESHRE). July 2-5, 2017. Geneva, Switzerland
 
Upcoming Conferences For Medical Writers/Freelancers

AMWA-MAC Regional Conference. Friday, March 10, 2017, the National 4-H Conference Center, 7100 Connecticut Avenue, Chevy Chase, MD 20815. Total cost for open sessions, breakfast, roundtables and lunch is $200. Register and view the entire agenda here.

AMWA-DVC Chapter Freelance Workshop: Extraordinary Learning and Networking for Seasoned, New, and Aspiring Freelance Medical Writers. Saturday, March 18, 2017, 8 am to 4:30 pm; Crowne Plaza Philadelphia, King of Prussia, PA. This annual meeting includes presentations on key topics in freelancing; a networking luncheon; interactive problem-solving sessions; and interactive roundtable discussions. You can view the full brochure here and click here to register online.

Association of Health Care Journalists (AHCJ) Health Journalism 2017. April 20-23, Rosen Center Hotel, Orlando, Florida. This is a premier training event for journalists covering health care, medical research, public health issues, consumer health, ethics and the business of health care. Learn more and register here. (Side note: I’m so bummed I can’t be there, but my son’s wedding has to take priority.)

American Society of Journalists and Authors— Content Writing and Ghostwriting Conference. Planned for November 17 in Chicago, the ghostwriting workshop is designed for both writers who want to know more about this form of freelancing and for experts who want to learn more about collaborating with a writer. The next day, on November 18, ASJA-Chicago hosts Content Connections, a one-day conference focusing on corporate and nonprofit content trends and best practices. Registration opens in May. To receive notifications, sign up for the ASJA newsletter.


I hope everyone makes it through winter. The good news is that we’re more than halfway to spring!

Best,
Deb

 
 
Webinar: How Much Are You Worth? Pricing for Freelancers

My newest webinar is scheduled for Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 2 pm – 3:30 pm Eastern.

I’ll use actual case studies from participants to demystify topics like project vs hourly rates; understanding what the market will bear; identifying your “sweet spot”; collecting the information you need to price a project; and negotiating. The goal is to increase your earnings this year without increasing your workload.

Can’t make it? No worries! We’ll record the session and make it available on demand.

Register before February 1 for a 10% discount off the $89 registration. Use the code EARLY.
 
The blog has been reactivated! Recent posts include updates on the ACA, my own experience with overcoming fear and taking risks, and a look back at 2016 in health care.
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Phone number: 484-680-0228
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