Healthcare is constantly evolving. New technology adds a deeper understanding to our knowledge of medical conditions but brings its own challenges. 2016 is the year of President Obama's “moonshot” to cure cancer, but is also an election year that will bring new changes with a new president.
Many healthcare experts say 2016 will be the first year many patients have video consults and clinicians will work out of “bedless hospitals” to monitor patients in far-away locations. The continued development of database and data analysis tools will make 2016 the first year that many patients use apps on their smartphones to diagnose medical conditions.
2016 will also be the year of higher healthcare deductibles where Americans will face at least an 8% spike in deductible prices.
Here are seven trends for healthcare in 2016:
- Digital healthcare Technology will do more than track your steps in 2016. Tablets, smartphones, and wearables will use better and more targeted data to provide real healthcare to patients. The number of Americans already using health or fitness apps on their phone has doubled in the last two years, and the healthcare industry is gearing to catch up. Over half of all Americans say they are willing to have a consultation with their physician using their smartphone. Telemedicine will provide more immediate and available healthcare information for patients while reducing healthcare costs by providing routine care and eliminating unnecessary hospital and doctor visits. Telemedicine has already become popular with companies like VSee facilitating virtual doctor visits. VSee provides handheld devices to patients that allow doctors in far-away locations to listen to patients' lungs, see into their ears and throats, and make diagnoses and treat their patients.
- ‘Healthbots' and artificial intelligence (AI) There is a growing trend of using robots in medical settings to aid both children and the elderly. Read more in the New York Times article here. With the development of IBM's Watson, the influence of AI is set to continue to grow this year in healthcare.
- Makeover for electronic medical records Electronic medical records (EMRs) are supposed to allow healthcare professionals easy access and use of patients' medical records, but many persistent problems with EMRs have limited their capabilities. With the growing reliance on technology in healthcare, 2016 may be the year for legislation requiring vendors of EMRs to focus on the security and usability of these systems, along with the systems' ability to integrate with other medical technologies.
- Cybersecurity With the growing use of technology in healthcare comes the growing threat of cybersecurity. Basic, vital medical devices can turn against patients when they are overcome with glitches or controlled by malevolent forces. Read more about cybersecurity in our post here.
- Spotlight on drug prices Drug pricing has been a hot topic, especially with the recent arrest of pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli who was notorious for outlandish price raises. One study found that nearly 3,500 generic drugs at least doubled in price between 2008 and 2015. 2016 will continue the important discussion about drug financing models, especially as increasingly frustrated consumers join the debate.
- Data crunching in a new way 2016 may be the first year that healthcare providers can actually use all the data they collect by analyzing it with new non-traditional databases. Traditional databases use columns, rows, and tables and must leave out unstructured data like doctor's notes. New non-traditional databases will be able to incorporate this information and will provide better data.
- New standardized rulers for measuring healthcare Every year healthcare organizations spend millions of dollars measuring and evaluating healthcare provider performance. Each healthcare payer uses unique measurements, leading to millions of dollars in unnecessary administrative costs. The New England Journal of Medicine reports that currently there are over 500 different state and regional quality measures, only 20% of which are used by more than one healthcare organization. 2016 might be the year of legislation to unify the measuring process.