This industry is in the midst of sizable and impactful change. Between constant technology improvements, increasing consumer demand (with more patients than ever covered by health insurance), shifting models of care, and ongoing economic pressures, 2015 is shaping up to be a pivotal change year for health care systems and providers.
We’ve pulled together a list of some of the top trends experts and thought leaders in this industry are predicting will emerge or continue this year. Are you already seeing these trends come to life?
1. DIY Health Care
Consumers are continuing to take more control over their own care. Technology like fitness monitors and mobile apps allows consumers to monitor health metrics like their activity levels and vital signs. The collection of this data on a daily basis at the user level helps people to feel more informed about their health and more enabled to make their own care decisions. Plus, people are beginning to share this data with their doctors and care providers to use when making prescription decisions and working through differentials. Almost 50 percent of doctors are comfortable using data from a mobile device to determine if a patient should be seen in person or prescribed medication.
2. Health Apps
On a related note, mobile health and fitness apps will continue to boom, and health care systems are starting to add to saturated app stores with their own proprietary apps. FDA review and regulation of these apps will likely grow.
3. Seamless Care
There will be a push from the IT side of health care to integrate systems and overcome current interoperability challenges. This will help in the transferring of patient data between health organizations, and this feeds into the requirements of EHR regulations.
4. Balancing Convenience with Information Security
Approximately 5 million patients had their personal records compromised due to data breaches in the summer of 2014 alone. Health care organizations need to weigh the importance of keeping patient data secure against the growing expectation of patients to have easy access to their own information and records.
5. Cost-Saving Initiatives
The sickest 1 percent of the country’s population results in a massive 20 percent of health care spending. To help reduce costs, many organizations are looking to develop more innovative care models that include components like telehealth, retail clinics, wearables, apps, and preventive care.
6. Limited Specialty Medications and Treatments
Insurers will be looking to physicians to provide a more detailed case around why a given patient should receive high-cost medications in order to justify the expense. Patients will also play an increasing role in deciding whether or not they choose to get these medications (or go with generics or no medication at all), especially since more insurers are moving to larger copayments.
7. Bigger Roles for Physician Extenders
We’ll see more clinical duties falling on the plates of supporting roles such as nurses and physician assistants. This may not result in lower health care costs like you might expect, because a larger demand for these roles could lead to increased salaries.
8. Partnerships and Mergers
Forty percent of last year’s Fortune 50 health care companies pursued new partnerships with other organizations. More and more companies are thinking about the potential business benefits of strategic partnerships as well as full-on mergers.
New initiatives pushing for data transparency will come to light. They will drive more openness and sharing of patient outcomes, financial relationships between physicians and pharmacies, and clinical trial data, which hopefully will lead to more informed patients and even better care.
10. Bundled Payments
Providers are moving toward an approach where they lump all of the costs associated with the different steps and processes of care under one fee. So when you visit a hospital for treatment, your bill will include your entire course of care—pre-op, hospital stay, anesthesia, follow-up, etc. It will help patients avoid being hit with surprise costs that they didn’t realize weren’t included in a different bill they already received. This will also help encourage providers to offer more connected care.
Now that we’ve hit March of 2015, we’re continuing to see these trends impact the industry and fundamentally change the way care is provided. What other changes are you seeing in health care?