Predicting the trends in medical care for 2016
As most of us have experienced, healthcare has gone through some dynamic changes in the last few years. There is intense focus on improving health outcomes, making access tocare easier, and utilizing technology to expand treatment. At the same time, increasing costs for patients, medical providers and health organizations along with an upcoming Presidential election later this year also will certainly affect this year’s trends in healthcare but how and to what degree is unknown.
Perhaps the biggest area of innovation that is expected to continue with tremendous growth in 2016 is the development of consumer medical applications and wireless health technology. This includes the long list of activity wrist bands that track everything from blood pressure to heart rate to sleep patterns. A recent study by Frost and Sullivan found that approximately 16% of those surveyed already are using this type of technology and 24% utilize some type of medical app. These type of activity sensors combined with mobile apps allow users to maintain a better sense of control over their own health and are able to do so with real-time information and convenience. This should help drive preventative care.
Speaking of convenience, more and more care clinics are popping up in local neighborhoods, grocery stores, and pharmacies. This adds more options for patients and consumers who are looking to remove the burden of making an appointment with their usual office based medical care provider. Many hospital systems are expanding their services with networks of convenient care clinics.
Telemedicine is here to stay! Medical care is offered 24 hours per day 365 days through the use of a computer, tablet or smartphone. E-visits take place over a secure internet connection and these virtual visits are offered by an increasing number of providers for simple health concerns such as colds, back pain, and headaches. Many of the practice sites offer credit card payment options, although some insurers are now beginning to pay for E-visits. This offers patients another avenue of access to medical care without having to make an appointment while offering the utmost in conveience. The big concern with this is cybersecurity. 2015 saw an unprecedented number of major cyber attacks, compromising data and in some cases patients confidential medical history. Many app companies, insurers, physician practices, and health systems are taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity to make it a priority.
Going deeper in 2016 we are likely to see the continued trend of mergers taking place. We began to see some of the large insurance carriers merge in the last year or so and this will create a handful of powerful players. The same holds true for medical practices and health system consolidation.
Regenerative medicine which incorporates stem cells and cellular therapies is poised to grow with an increasing number of new products coming online, further clinical developments, and a more favorable regulation.
Lastly, the Affordable Health Act (ACA) has been at the center of debate since its inception. Now with the looming Presidental election upcoming, there is the possibility that we can see another major overhaul of our healthcare system take place with ACA being repealed.