As medical expenses continue to rise, healthcare organizations and providers will be all the more compelled to use innovative technology to help lower costs and gain competitive advantage. Digital tools that provide alternatives to time- and cost-intensive activities are gaining momentum among providers and patients, who appreciate the convenience of remote access to clinicians. Data-driven services, such as remote patient monitoring (RPM), will help improve bottom lines, as well.
Here are some healthcare trends we expect to see in 2019.
1. Greater Adoption of Remote Patient Monitoring
A whopping 69% of healthcare professionals ranked RPM technology the #1 reducer of overall healthcare costs. To reduce hospital stays, decrease patient readmissions, and improve outcomes, many leading healthcare organizations will look to remote patient monitoring (RPM) in 2019. This demand is fuel by the compelling benefits of RPM, such as:
- increased patient engagement
- patient-provider communication
- high-risk patient monitoring
- chronic illness management
- reduced need for in-person visits
Further, reimbursements for RPM are expected to increase due to provisions in the 21st Century Cures Act specific to home healthcare, which may take effect in 2019. These provisions are designed to expand adoption of RPM, boost home infusion therapy, and curtail Medicare and Medicaid fraud.
2. Improved Patient and Financial Outcomes with AI
To improve patient experiences and lower costs, many healthcare organizations plan to implement an customer care strategy bolstered with AI technology, according to OptumIQ. Additionally:
- 53% of executives in the healthcare sphere plan to invest in AI-driven healthcare.
- 86% noted their organization’s plan to make the most of data as a way to automate decision-making like never before.
However, as exciting as artificial intelligence may be, many health executives are concerned about real and perceived risks related to making AI-based decisions and actions. To mitigate potential problems, many plan to develop internal ethical standards to guide responsible AI use. We may even see the healthcare industry set a standard for ethical use of AI that could be adopted by other industries.
3. Improved Digital Healthcare for Out-of-Hospital Settings
Digital health tech and mobile health devices are expected to grow by 30%, empowering individuals to manage their health more effectively out of the hospital or clinic setting. The aging population and those with chronic health conditions are the primary drivers of digital health solutions, such as RPM devices, mHealth applications, and telehealth platforms.
In addition, advantageous reimbursement guidelines will give rise to other care delivery models, including digital wellness therapies (i.e., software and apps aimed at treating a variety of health issues), nutrition, dentistry, prescription management, and behavioral health.
4. More Lifestyle-Related Healthcare Services for Policyholders
Patients want experiences tailored to their individual needs, but many of today’s health insurance policies can’t deliver customized service. The rate of medically insured working adults has declined—from 12.7% in 2016 to 15.5% in 2018. Contributing factors could include the shortened enrollment time and growing gaps in the Affordable Care Act.
In 2019, to further personalize customer experiences and reduce costs for potential claims, more health insurance providers will offer digital and data-driven healthcare services, such as personalized reminders about preventative care and wellness programs available. A benefit to the insurer is the ability to leverage individual data and use it to personalize premiums, discounts, and rewards.
5. Shift to Value-Based Care
For decades, the healthcare system in the United States has been based on a fee-for-service model that rewards providers based on the volume of discrete services provided. As the unintended consequences of such a model have become increasingly costly and problematic, the industry is moving towards value-based system, where care providers are compensated in part by keeping patients in good health.
In 2019, we’ll see increased movement toward value-based care. We are already seeing a drive toward policy and payment reform, including the way Medicare rewards clinicians. For example, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act (MACRA) of 2015 remunerates physicians who provide high-quality care for a lower cost.
6. More Mergers, Better Healthcare Accessibility
The healthcare industry is going through a profound change brought about by colliding forces, including increasing consumerism, the decentralization of care, and the shift to a value-based financial model. As a result, new and established players are rethinking their revenue models and two trends will follow.
First, mega-mergers will continue to combine the strengths of different organizations to improve healthcare offerings. In 2019, expect middlemen to disappear as companies merge to bring consumers a wide variety of integrated, cost-efficient, health tech products and services.
We will also continue to see more vertical mergers. The Cigna-Express Scripts and CVS-Aetna mergers are examples of organizations seeking to combine non-traditional companies—such as home health providers, pharmacy benefits managers, and ambulatory care providers—to generate revenue while better meeting patient needs.
7. Nontraditional Players in the Arena
In today’s consumer-driven climate, where staying competitive depends on factors such as creativity, excellent customer service, and brand authority, non-traditional players are taking the plunge into the healthcare market.
For example, Amazon paired with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase to purchase specialty pharmacy PillPack. With PillPack’s deep pharmacy experience and Amazon’s customer service expertise, PillPack now has the resources they need to fulfill their vision of making it easier for people to manage their medication.
Where Bezos and Buffett go, others are sure to follow. So look for more companies, established and up-and-coming, making waves in healthcare IT.
Better Healthcare Tools for a Better Future
To improve stay competitive, control costs and improve patient outcomes, healthcare companies will continue to adopt a variety of health IT solutions. RPM, AI, digital healthcare for out-of-hospital settings, healthcare services tied to lifestyle, value-based care, healthcare mergers, and non-traditional players will figure prominently in 2019 and beyond.
At Skedulo, we’re dedicated to staying on top of evolving med-tech trends with a particular focus on mobile healthcare technology. To find out how we can help your home or mobile healthcare operation thrive in these changing times, book a demo today.