HIMSS recently released the report “2019 Healthcare Trends Forecast: The Beginning of a Consumer-Driven Reformation”. It offers commentary and analysis from various healthcare industry leaders on upcoming changes and opportunities for growth that the industry will experience in the coming year.
Intended to give providers and other healthcare professional valuable insights into future innovations, there are four key trends that the report notes that are of particular interest.
Digital Health Implications and Applications
Digital healthcare has been churning up headlines and excitement for years now, but HIMSS says 2019 needs to be the year that consumers will want tangible results. The combination of consumer pressure and the current regulatory environment are expected to be the big movers-and-shakers when it comes to holding industry innovators to increased levels of accountability. As the FDA Precertification (Pre-Cert) Pilot Program and CMS Innovation Center become more widely recognized and used, it’s projected that government barriers to digital health innovations will lessen. The reduced barriers should encourage increased patient access, healthcare efficiencies, decrease provider burden, and create new pathways for care delivery without long costly hospitals stays.
Five highlighted areas of digital innovation include:
- Broader adoption of artificial intelligence, particularly when it comes to population health
- Virtual reality/augmented reality (VR/AR) treatments for pain control, both for chronic conditions and post-surgery pain
- Wearables and implantable health devices to enable round-the-clock monitoring of treatment effectiveness
- Increased use and impact of digital therapeutics
- Broader use of voice recognition and intelligent assistants to reduce clinician burden
Increased strides for more efficient interoperability are also projected.
Due to external market disruptors entering the healthcare industry—companies like Amazon, Google, and Walmart—traditional healthcare providers will be challenged to step up their game to meet consumers’ ever changing wants and needs. There’s been a marked shift towards convenience and cost transparency amongst healthcare consumers; something these companies are uniquely adapted to meet, even if they do lack the traditional experience of more long-time providers.
This change in mindset reflects an overall push from consumers towards value-based care. This evolution is projected to develop in these specific areas:
- Providers will see additional influence from employers—like Amazon—as these organizations attempt to manage costs across the healthcare value chain
- Efforts to integrate various healthcare solutions to support value-based healthcare will continue, with a focus on investing on a functional infrastructure that can support things like telehealth, precision medicine, etc. in a secure manner
- Increased adoption of clinically-integrated supply chain capabilities to better understand consumption patterns
- More specialized, high-touch, tech-enabled value driven primary care practices for Medicare and Medicaid populations
- Increased public access to DNA-related technology, made more marketable by industry veterans 23andMe and com
Financial and Demographic Challenges
Organizations are going to be under increased pressure to do more with fewer resources and reduce costs, all while providing higher quality of care. Considering the ongoing “silver tsunami”—the wave of people (11,000 per day) turning 65 in the U.S.—this pressure is going to be great. Transparency regarding high quality, efficient, and accessible care is going to be at the top of the priority list for the majority of these patients.
Additional demographic challenges will change the face of care delivery as we know it. Things like:
- New digital health tools and technology uses to bridge the geographic divide, providing 24/7 access to care no matter the location of patients
- Population and public health analytics used more regularly, helping to identify vulnerable patient groups as well as key social determinants of health—things like genetics, location, gender, income, and occupation
- More robust tools and technology to provide care outside of hospitals through leveraging virtual care, telehealth, EMRs, smart technology, and automated clinical decision support powered by AI
By focusing on the social determinants of health, companies will be better positioned to provide data-driven, personalized care to those who need it.
Data Governance and Policy
Privacy and security remain top concerns for policymakers when it comes to health information and technology. Cybersecurity is more important than ever, as healthcare data remains a target-rich environment for potential hacks and theft. Companies will have to adjust their privacy policies due to the General Data Protection Regulation’s (GDPR) influence. Additionally, the Trump Administration has mentioned updating HIPAA to better fit the current healthcare landscape.
While these 4 areas are where healthcare is expected to experience the most noticeable levels of change, there’s no question that 2019 will be year of growth in more ways than one.
For HIMSS’s full report, click here.