4 Top Health Care Trends of 2017Posted July 7, 2017 | By Tricia Hussung
There has been rapid change in the United States health care system in recent years. Health care organizations have encountered emerging trends related to payment models, regulation, technological advancements, workforce transformation and more. In addition, population models are shifting fast: “To be sure, both payer and provider executives will continue to plan for the projected 80 million Medicare beneficiaries in 2030. Still, seniors will soon be outnumbered by millennials as the patients demanding care from the U.S. healthcare system,” Managed Healthcare Executive explains.
Add the uncertain future of the Affordable Care Act to this already turbulent climate, and 2017 is an important year for health care management professionals. It comes down to striking a balance between delivering the highest-quality patient care while meeting business needs. The following are some of the top health care trends expected to impact the health care system this year.
1. Technological Advances
One of the most well-publicized trends in health care is the advent of new technologies that make health a more personalized experience. “Consumers are much more digitally attuned than ever before, and they want the delivery of their healthcare to be convenient and easy,” Managed Healthcare Executive notes. One of the ways this is accomplished is through telehealth services.
Younger patients in particular are utilizing telehealth, which includes patient portals, live video chats with health care professionals and more. In fact, 60 percent of millennials support the use of telehealth, and 71 percent want their physicians to adopt mobile health applications, according to one Salesforce report. Telehealth services are ideal for consumers who live in rural areas, as well as those who prefer not to take time out of their day for office visits.
Wearable health monitoring is another new innovation in health care. “With help from automation, patients can even be prompted to check their weight, pulse, or oxygen levels, and enter results into mobile patient portals,” Forbes says. They can also share health information with their doctors in real time. This can be lifesaving, especially for elderly patients.
2. Network Security
Though technology is of course improving health care delivery and services, it does introduce some serious concerns when it comes to security. In fact, Inc. reports that one in 13 patients will fall victim to medical identity theft through data breaches. “Unlike banks and credit card issuers, most healthcare organizations offer no protection services for victims,” the same article explains. However, organizations that don’t have adequate security measures in place can face lost revenue through lawsuits and loss of reputation.
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3. Patients as Consumers
Patients are also participating in their own health care in a new way. With high deductibles that continue to increase, they are looking for tools to provide price and quality information. This consumer approach to health care means that providers are feeling pressure to give patients ways to comparison shop and understand the cost of their medical care.
Price transparency is a central issue for patients, along with access to information. From a provider perspective, the patient-as-consumer trend has led to quality reporting through satisfaction surveys, along with the development of social media strategy and digital outreach efforts.
4. Preventive Health Care
In an effort to prevent serious health issues and lower costs, providers are putting an emphasis on preventive health care as a way for patients to take control of their health. “Preventive care focuses on maintaining your health, and establishing your baseline health status. This may include immunizations, vaccines, physical evaluations, lab work, x-rays and medically appropriate health screenings,” according to United Healthcare. This strategy focuses on wellness, along with early diagnosis and treatment.
With top health care trends like these affecting the modern health care system, now is an exciting time to be a health care management professional. They are at the forefront of innovation, leading the changes that continue to transform how patients access health care services.
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