Halfway into 2016, this seems the right time to assess the trends seen in the industry. What is being seen midway into the year is not a bad milestone to judge where the rest of the year is likely to head. If the first half of the year is some yardstick, the second is likely to see the fulfilment of the promise shown in the first.
Before everything else, however, it needs to be mentioned that 2016 is not likely to be a signal year for the healthcare industry. This is because although new technologies have come in, they have been around for a while now, and no one tool or technology or technique can be said to be exclusive for this year.
Also, 2016 has not been a year in which any major legislative, industry-impacting change took place, something comparable to the Affordable Care Act of 2010. Of course, some of the changes suggested by Obamacare have been taking place in 2016, but these are more in line with the changes suggested for many years, rather than for this year alone.
It is in the backdrop of all these that the healthcare trends for 2016 needs to be assessed. PriceWaterhouseCooper (PwC), a global consulting firm, has come up with its assessments of the US healthcare sector for 2016. According to its assessment, some of the major trends seen in the US healthcare industry in the year included:
The centrality of technology: The overwhelming and ineluctable fact is that technology is the number one driver of the healthcare industry. Many trends and changes have been seen for a while now, and 2016 continues those. At the root of all these changes is the inescapable dependence on technology for carrying out a number of activities related to the healthcare sector. Technology-driven developments are likely to change the face of health provision in the future, of which 2016 is likely to be a part.
What are the changes that technology is likely to bring in?
Many trends that have developed and evolved over the years have continued into 2016. The most conspicuous changes that technology has brought in relation to the healthcare industry relate to:
Wearable devices: This is going to be the trend of the future. Healthcare IT News estimates that it is it likely that with the advent of more and more sophisticated technology; remote healthcare is going to take center stage. Wearable devices will be the medium through which a number of biometric data will be exchanged between the patient and the healthcare provider. With the advancement of biosensors, wearable devices could take the place of injectables by being the locus for non-invasive methods of patient evaluation. A number of diseases could be diagnosed and prognosticated with the use of this tool, it thinks. Safety of these devices is a major concern, though.
Spurt in the use of mobiles: Mobile technology has been on a dramatic upward swing in the past few years. It is likely to get hastened during this year and in the years ahead. The 50 percent increase the use of a healthcare-related app on mobile phones from 2013 to 2014 is likely to go up as 2016 plays out.
Change in prescription pattern: PwC found out from its research that over half of the consumers are willing to accept staggered payment options for their drugs, if they are given a choice, rather than pay at once. If pharma companies tie up with financiers, insurers, lending institutions or even banks, they could offer their consumers more options for purchasing drugs, just like financing options exist for a host of other products like consumer durables, automobiles, etc.
Remote technology has gained more traction: Remote technology has not only come about in the form of wearable or mobile devices; they are also manifest in other forms. Remote diagnosis and treatments are very possible outcomes of technological advancement. A patient seated in San Francisco can consult a physician in New York without having to move an inch. The EHR can also be easily teleported and viewed for analysis and other insights.
Patients look for more than just service: While the advent of technology has made access to devices easier and speeded up access to the healthcare provider; it has also brought with it another effect: increased knowledge on the part of the health consumer. As a result of being in the knowledge economy, patients have become more demanding. They look for value rather than volume in the healthcare provided to them. They look more at the measurable outcomes than the processes involved in administering healthcare. As a result, it is likely that healthcare providers could also become the next marketing professionals: Getting paid only for what they deliver and not what they try to do.
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Last updated on: 07/09/2016
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