By Debra Wood, RN, contributor Jan 07, 2019
health care continues its somewhat tumultuous evolution toward the triple aim
of improved quality and patient satisfaction at less expense, a number of
health care trends and innovations in health care are anticipated.
Staff Care recently spoke to several
industry experts to get their predictions on which trends are likely to have
the greatest impact on clinicians and patients in the coming year, and the
following issues rose to the top.
10 Health Care Trends in 2019
1. Action or not on ACA
Texas judge Reed O'Connor ruled in December 2018 that the individual mandate
was unconstitutional and the Affordable Care Act invalid, many expect an appeal
to higher federal courts.
“My prediction is that this
ruling will, at the very least, be narrowed, and perhaps rejected entirely,”
said Sam Halabi, an associate law professor at the University of Missouri. “The
majority of the law will remain intact, which is good news for consumers and
health care providers.”
2. Consumer engagement
“Today’s consumer places a
premium on simplicity, convenience and personalization. Navigators, concierge
services and virtual resources are expanding to help consumers take some of the
complexity out of accessing care and to better anticipate and address their
unique needs,” said Brian Marcotte, CEO of the National Business Group on
Olaf Lodbrock, senior vice
president and general manager of Precision Medicine, Clinical Solutions in
Germany, reported more consumers will start storing their personal health and
clinical data in the cloud.
Health care innovations will
continue the trend toward mobile accessibility. More care will move to the
home, and apps such as AliveCor, a single-lead electrocardiogram, will become
3. Self-pay patients and claims
Hughes, MD, chief executive of Sutherland Healthcare in Seattle, anticipates as
younger people increase their use of health care, more will self-pay.
Matt Reading, vice president of
Customer Journey Solutions at NICE in the New York area, predicted more
providers will proactively help consumers to reconcile claims.
“The health care industry is
discovering there is more to optimizing cost when it comes to customer
service,” Reading added. “Health care organizations are focusing on
understanding and capturing a holistic customer journey from start to finish –
rather than just a piece of it.
4. Making the most of data
will be the mainstay as health systems strive to optimize in-house clinical
data,” said John Danaher, MD, president of Clinical Solutions in Philadelphia.
“We anticipate that 2019 will usher in a variety of advanced analytics
demonstrations. Many will be novel in the output generated but the uncertainty
of real-world clinical value will continue.”
Crivelli, director of digital at Cambridge BioMarketing in Boston, expects, “In
2019, data will become increasingly important in enhancing the overall care of
rare-disease patients, and it will be important for physicians to embrace a
data-driven approach when developing a plan of care.” Additionally, she
anticipates physicians will need to leverage different types of clinical data,
such as information from wearables as well as more traditional lab work or
With all of this technology
taking place in medicine, physicians and other providers will find it essential
to protect their data and look out for phishing schemes, malware and fake updates,
according to eSentire’s 2018 Annual Threat Report.
Yet, the greatest threat to
patients’ data security may be clinicians and other medical staff, according to
a November 2018
research letter, published in JAMA
Internal Medicine. The researchers found
that internal negligence by health care providers is more likely to be
responsible for personal health information data breaches than external,
and increased vigilance to address both external and internal threats to health
data security should be a top health care trend in 2019.
6. Medical scribes
have become routine in some medical practices, and Hughes expects their use to
increase as will voice-driven technologies, so physicians can focus on the
patient and not the keyboard. Virtual medical scribes are also seeing a rise in
use, and some expect the future of health care documentation may be tied to the
rise in telehealth.
“Everything we’re seeing shows that telemedicine
is expected to grow significantly in the coming years, and as
physicians, we’re poised to help stimulate that growth and shape the future of
medicine,” said Samant Virk, MD and CEO/Founder of MediSprout, a telehealth
company based in Valhalla, New York.
Virk considers virtual visits ideal for
patients seeking refills or following up, freeing the physician to care for
sicker or more complex patients. Medicare’s new Brief Communication
Technology-based Service will reimburse for some virtual care. Virk also
reported a “trend in telehealth reimbursement that, if it continues, will
likely have some more comprehensive reimbursement structure in place in the
next two to four years.”
With Medicare expanding
telehealth access, the use of telehealth will grow, agreed Kumar Dharmarajan,
geriatrician and chief scientific officer at Clover Health, an insurer based in
Jersey City, New Jersey. He also foresees the use of telehealth tools to identify
disease exacerbations early, preventing unnecessary hospital visits.
Dean L. Smith, MD, chief medical
information Officer at GlobalMed, a virtual visit platform in Scottsdale,
Arizona, added, “a key driver in telehealth will be reimbursement models, since
the U.S. health care system looks poised to continue the trend of moving from
fee-for-service to value-based care. That in turn will drive adoption of
virtual health care platforms, such as telemedicine.”
8. Retail health care
“Industry consolidation and
simplification will continue to merge business models between care delivery,
insurance and funding with the ultimate goal to make shopping for health care
as easy as it is for any other retail purchase,” said Steven Auerbach, CEO of
Alegeus, a consumer-directed health care platform in Waltham, Massachusetts.
Care: Growth and Staffing Trends in Urgent Care and Retail Medicine
9. Artificial intelligence (AI)
“Clinicians will prosper in 2019
and beyond by adopting the potential of artificial intelligence and
incorporating AI platforms into health care workflows, which can significantly
improve productivity, helping their practice grow as the market continues to
grow,” Virk said.
“Physicians should find ways each day in
their practice to use AI to their advantage. It can successfully automate
routine processes and provide more intuitive interfaces for EHRs and other
10. Demand for physicians
The demand for physicians will
continue to grow, Dharmarajan said. People are seeking more time with their
jobs in 2019, should be plentiful. The Bureau of Labor Statistics
reported a 13 percent increase in physician jobs from 2016 to 2026.
Although AI and other
technologies can assist with intake and basic workflows, physicians and other
clinicians must make the final decision as to diagnosis and treatment.
“Success in the coming year will
be seen by those able to create models that increase the amount of time
physicians spend with patients while also improving the quality of
those interactions,” Dharmarajan added.
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