Like the times, the nation’s demographics, social mores and care standards are changing. So when was the last time you updated your women’s health service line’s strategic plan?

If it’s gathering dust on the shelf, we recommend taking a proactive approach to managing women’s health by creating a strategy that addresses:

  • leadership;
  • physician engagement;
  • market expansion;
  • service quality;
  • financial sustainability; and
  • market trends.

To help get you started, here are the latest market trends in obstetrics, gynecology and related services.

Market Trends Affecting Obstetrics

  • U.S. birth rates have been declining since 1990. Birth rates per 1,000 women have decreased from 16.7 in 1990 to 12.4 in 2013.
  • “Routine” prenatal care is shifting from community to tertiary hospital settings due to shifts in birthing mother demographics and chronic medical conditions; a rise in successful In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) techniques causing higher levels of multiple gestations; and an increase in patient and provider risk aversion leading to a larger number of C-sections and complex birthing cases.
  • Healthcare providers are differentiating their birthing services and facilities to meet patient preferences for non-traditional birthing options.

Market Trends Affecting Gynecology

  • Major GYN procedures are declining (i.e., fewer hysterectomies due to newer hormonal therapies and minimally invasive procedures)
  • Newly-trained OB/GYNs are behind the increase in minimally invasive procedures and utilization of robotics.
  • Gynecological oncology services are shifting to integrated centers that offer a broad spectrum of services (i.e., GYN oncology, radiation oncology) and alternative/complementary care methodologies, such as acupuncture and massage therapy.

Market Trends Affecting Related Services

  • Increasing awareness of urinary stress incontinence has led to an increase in number of patients presenting for urinary incontinence care.
  • Utilization of reproductive (infertility) services is rising, due to individuals starting families later in life, increase in same-sex couples, and a national infertility rate of approximately 13 percent of couples desiring to have children.
  • Consumer desires for “Women caring for Women” has led to all-female staffing of outpatient locations that provide women’s health services ranging from primary care to medical and surgical specialties.

The Five Critical Questions Your Plan Should Answer

To address these market trends and ensure your women’s health service line remains competitive, you need to answer five critical questions during your planning process:

  1. How sustainable and viable are obstetric services at your facility if birth rates continue to decline?
  2. Do your facilities, birthing options, and infertility services meet the expectations of couples desiring children in your market?
  3. Do you have the gynecology service breadth and capabilities necessary to offset reductions in obstetrics volume you will most likely experience?
  4. Are you aligning with and recruiting providers capable of performing modern robotic and minimally invasive gynecological procedures?
  5. Have you begun to integrate your gynecology and uro-gynecology services with your oncology service line?

D.J. Sullivan

Chief Strategy Officer and Managing Director of Claims Data Analytics