Healthcare business advisory firm The Camden Group tried its hand at making some New Year’s predictions for 2011 in its annual Top 10 Trends in Healthcare list.

The issues that the healthcare industry are likely to face this year are similar to those carrying weight in 2010, only bolstered by the continuing sluggish economy and healthcare reform. Pressures on providers to reduce costs and improve quality, the group predicts, will trigger “an avalanche of activity” centered on accountable care organizations, bundled payments, and patient-centered medical homes as providers test the waters of new care delivery models.

What may pique the most interest among the healthcare design and construction communities are a couple of points The Camden Group includes, the first being that the focus of construction in 2011 will be on fast returns.

“Construction projects will be scaled down, with a focus on regulatory compliance, enhancing throughput, improving care/outcomes, and if possible, capturing additional market share. Providers also will prioritize construction that generates superior returns, such as surgical services and imaging centers. Do not be surprised to see the growth of freestanding emergency departments to reduce the need for hospitals, increase access, and provide capacity for the newly insured,” the group states.

Also noted was the expected pervasiveness of information technology as providers shift to new care models, pushing the need for electronic medical records, computerized physician order entry, and health information exchanges.

And because many hospitals and physician groups will likely be forced to acknowledge that they lack the resources to invest in IT, facilities, and equipment for this new delivery model, mergers and acquisitions also are expected to be a noticeable theme to this year.

To see the full list, go here.