10 Key Health Care Trends to Watch in 2019

As 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.

 

Top 10 Health Care Trends in 2019

 

1. Action or not on ACA

Although 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 Health.

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 more commonplace.

3. Self-pay patients and claims assistance

Graham 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

“Analytics 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.”

Annemarie 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 hospital visits.

5. Cybersecurity

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, malicious hackers.

Ongoing training 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

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.

7. 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.

RELATED: Convenient 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 online tasks.”

10. Demand for physicians 

The demand for physicians will continue to grow, Dharmarajan said. People are seeking more time with their physicians.

Therefore, physician 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.

STAFF CARE is a leader in locum tenens staffing for physicians and advanced practitioners throughout the U.S. CONTACT US to learn more about locum tenens assignments in 2019.

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