Top Healthcare Trends for 2016

Four advantages of open access scheduling

In 2015 we had the switch to ICD-10. It looks like there will be more changes in 2016 with patients becoming customers/consumers and driving more personalized medicine. MediGain has been searching through various newsletters and websites to bring you these top trends developing in the healthcare sector for the upcoming year.

1) Mobile and remote healthcare:

This may be the year that telemedicine comes into its own. PricewaterhouseCooper’s Health Research Institute (PwC HRI) reports that consumers will use their smartphones and tablets for health monitoring more than ever. The devices will soon be used to provide anywhere, anytime diagnosis and treatment in 2016. From “bedless” hospitals to smartphone medicine, care can and will increasingly be delivered remotely. PwC’s HRI found the percentage of consumers with at least one medical, health or fitness app on their mobile devices has doubled, from 16 percent in 2013 to 32 percent in 2015. In addition, 60 percent of consumers surveyed are willing to have a visit with their physician using their mobile device.

 2) The “second wave” or is it a ripple?

Forbes says that the second wave of digital health disruption is coming in 2016. “Wearables, nearables, apps and digital diagnostics will start to leverage the streams of health data made possible by the connected consumer to create powerful health platforms that move beyond trendy apps and trackers. Vertical and point-solutions have paved the way for more robust horizontal innovations that will deliver proven outcomes with compelling business models. If you’re going to compete in 2016, the price of admission just went up.”

However, Healthcare Business and Technology does not think it will happen this year. They wrote, “The technology hasn’t caught up with the promise of what can  be, and that won’t change in 2016. Not only is the technology not yet able to deliver, but the incentives and processes to support wide-scale deployment aren’t in place yet. Although all signs point to wearables becoming an integral part of delivery of care, this won’t happen next year (2016).”

3) The acronym for 2016 – PGHD (patient-generated healthcare data)

Trends #1 and #2 have led to the latest (another) acronym, PGHD (patient-generated healthcare data). InformationWeek Healthcare interviewed Patrick Everett, founder of Digital Doctor and an independent consultant in healthcare informatics, about this upcoming trend. “There are many challenges to address before a patient will be able to automatically send their blood-glucose, blood pressure, and heart rate to their physician seamlessly.” Among the issues to be resolved: financial disincentives, workflow disruption for providers, physician worries about liability and workload, incompatible technologies for patients and providers, a lack of technical standards, and an underdeveloped case for change. “This is a trend on the horizon worth monitoring, because solutions are a decade away,” said Everett.

4) Mental or “Behavioral” healthcare coming to the forefront:

PwC’s HRI predicts behavioral health will be a key issue in 2016, as one out of five American adults will or may experience a mental illness issue every year. Mental illness and behavioral issues cost businesses more than $440 billion annually. Employers and healthcare organizations may start to focus more on preventive behavioral healthcare to keep costs down, productivity up and consumers healthy.

5) Artificial intelligence (AI) coming to healthcare:

Forbes predicts that numerous startups focusing on artificial intelligence will gain traction in 2016. With “super cloud computing” like IBM’s Watson Health www.ibm.com/smarterplanet/us/en/ibmwatson/healthlaunching in 2015, the concept of AI in healthcare is beginning to be adopted. In 2016, many innovations may move out of the lab and into the spotlight.

6) Look for more mergers in healthcare in 2016:

By mid-year 2015, nearly $400 billion in agreements in healthcare deals had been announced, breaking records set the previous year. Trine Tsouderos, a director in PwC’s HRI said, “I think going into 2016 we do see [consolidation] continue due to the fact the entire industry is changing and shifting and capital remains cheap, so it’s advantageous if you have plans to do it now. We also see a domino effect that could happen after several mergers in one part of the industry leading to others to do the same and start scaling up.”

7) More companies will be branching into healthcare:

In additional to an increase in mergers mentioned previously, the line between “consumer” and “healthcare” companies will start to blur. An increasing number of retails stores will start offering services previously only offered by hospitals like CVS, Walgreens and WalMart and their quick in-and-out healthcare services. In 2015, we saw Novartis and Qualcomm launch a $1 billion partnership. StartUp Health partnered with Aurora Healthcare, GE and Finland to build healthcare startups.

8) Drug pricing may have reached its peak in the U.S.

With the rise of high-deductible healthcare plans, consumers are likely to become increasingly frustrated with those high prices, according to PwC’s HRI. The firm estimates that under threat of strong government action, pharmaceutical companies may contemplate new models in 2016. Overall, the drug pricing by pharmaceutical companies will continue to be a high-profile topic.

9) Consumers are concerned about “healthcare hacking”:

The cybersecurity of medical technology is becoming a real concern of the healthcare consumer. We may see medical devices such as insulin pumps getting hacked in 2016. PwC’s HRI found half of consumers surveyed would think twice about using any connected medical device after a hacking incident, and 38 percent would be wary of using a hospital associated with the hacked device.

10) “Do-It-Yourself” (DIY) Healthcare Creators will cause regulatory challenges:

Forbes says that with advances in 3D printing, material science, virtual reality, Healthkit, Researchkit, personalized products such as casts, prosthetics, and wearables, that a variety of patient-designed solutions will “be made to order” using software and could be printed/produced at home. This category of DIY inventions will become available to more and more patients/consumers. This will create challenges for regulators as people make their own niche health and wellness products as consumers search for customized healthcare.

11) Health consumers look for convenience and value:

According to PwC’s HRI, in 2016, consumers will begin to manage their health spending like they manage their retirement savings. Companies may try to find new ways to solve payment problems. This could include bundling innovative financing with other offerings. For example, healthcare payment and billing will be embedded into broader consumer experiences, similar to the way other industries link spending to rewards, offering frequent flier miles, discounts or points. These models will cater to what consumers want — convenience and value.

12) Growing experimentation with ‘healthbots’

The New York Times recently ran a story about using robots as health aids for the elderly. Increasingly, people are opening up to the idea that robots and similar devises can help them with their healthcare needs. As the aging population grows, so too will the use of robotic health aids or ‘healthbots’.

Sources:

PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Health Research Institute (PcW HRI), Forbes, InformationWeek Healthcare,Healthcare Business and Technology.

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