Now that 2020 is finally here, it’s time to look ahead to what you can expect from the new year as a healthcare provider. The healthcare industry is changing fast as new technology comes onto the market, major corporations finalize deals, and patients get more comfortable using the latest technology. 2019 was full of exciting change, including major acquisitions and mergers that could reduce the price of care, increase support for telehealth, and provide powerful tools that can improve patient outcomes.
These trends will only continue as we head further into 2020. Here are just some of the major changes coming your way in the new year:
Predicting the Future: AI and Predictive Analytics
Healthcare providers may no longer have to make decisions on their own as more facilities and health networks take advantage of what’s known as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence programs. When we say AI, we’re not referring to robots, but rather the idea that machines can make decisions for themselves, as long as they have access to the right data.
Doctors will soon use predictive analytics programs to anticipate future patient outcomes based on their age, health, previous and current conditions, family history, genetics, and information collected from similar patients. Doctors can then use this information to supplement their own opinions in terms of what’s best for the patient.
There’s no shortage of healthcare data to analyze. In 2020, healthcare data is expected to double every 73 days. As more systems implement electronic health records and store information in the cloud, machines and algorithms will be able to use millions of patient records to predict the future.
The Rise of 3D Imaging Technology
Welcome to the future of radiological imaging. New developments in radiological imaging technology are helping providers glean new insights from ultrasound, x-ray, and EKG images. Both providers and patients will soon be able to digitally explore these images in new ways, such as with three-dimensional viewing, as well as augmented reality and virtual reality options. Providers can then analyze all sides of the areas in question.
As exciting as these new developments may seem, radiological imaging technology will only get more advanced, and thus more expensive, as a result. Value-based care models will strictly regulate when and how this new technology is used as a way of reducing medically unnecessary care and wasteful spending in the industry. In the years ahead, providers will need to show that certain procedures and x-rays are crucial to the health of the patient before guiding them towards these options.
Patient Engagement Gets Personal
Increasing patient engagement is widely considered a key performance indicator for health systems. Generally speaking, the more providers engage with their patients, the healthier they are. Providers can use virtual care systems, smartphones apps, and telehealth features like remote patient monitoring to keep in touch with their patients as they go about their day. They can remind patients to take their medications, quickly triage their symptoms, or make sure they are leading active, healthy lifestyles.
The latest digital technology is meant to fill the gaps left by in-person care. If patients are too sick to come in for an in-person consultation, lack access to transportation, or are disabled, they can use these apps and tools to connect with providers without leaving their homes.
However, every patient has their own way of managing their health. Some may prefer to chat with their provider over the phone, while others prefer video calls or text messages. Some patients, especially older and low-income patients, may lack access to the latest technology all together. As a result, providers will need to alter their approaches to engagement based on the patient’s unique preferences.
Reducing the Price of Care
The one thing that all these trends have in common is that they’re all designed to reduce the price of care. U.S. healthcare spending is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.5% through 2027. That can be an alarming figure for patients, providers, and insurance companies. U.S. spending reached an all-time high of $3.5 billion in 2018, and 2019 looks to be no different. It will soon represent nearly 20% of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).
Rising healthcare costs are largely attributed to the aging U.S. population. As the baby boomers continue to retire, providers will need to find a way to reduce the price of care when caring for vulnerable patients, including those coping with one or several chronic conditions. Providers and health networks are increasingly turning to telehealth, predictive analytics, and new models of care to improve patient outcomes and achieve reduced healthcare spending.
Medicare and Medicaid spending are expected to increase dramatically in the years ahead, growing at a rate of 7.4% and 5.5% respectively. Meanwhile, private insurance spending is expected to slow from 5.8% to an annual growth rate of 4.8% in the years ahead. Midwestern, rural states and other areas with limited access to care are on track to see the highest increases in the price of care. Cost reduction methods will likely target areas with the fastest rising healthcare costs, including rural areas and those with high numbers of chronically-ill or elderly patients.
The U.S. healthcare industry looks to be on the verge of great change as we head further into 2020. Keep these trends in mind as your facility embraces the future of healthcare.