In almost every country, medical treatment is expensive, and the prices of medicines are sky-high. Therefore, changes in the healthcare industry are a long way coming. There have been many efforts to change the healthcare system and improve productivity. The first was back in 1965 when Medicare and Medicaid were introduced. Both these programs were the first step towards a public-wide health coverage solution for America. Since then, policymakers are working diligently to introduce more laws to make the system more efficient. Then in 2010, Obama Care was passed to provide affordable healthcare and protection to patients. But the situation is still the same. The American healthcare system is crumbling.
But experts believe that things in the healthcare sector are going to go through a rapid change. These changes will affect all the stakeholders of the industry. There is going to be a shift towards a patient-centric model of healthcare.
Let’s discuss the predicted trends and changes in the sector.
- Data security needs: Hospitals and insurers store a lot of private data, which is vulnerable to attacks. Attacks on healthcare records are relatively common, and they can be disastrous for the service provider. In 2019 alone, there were 505 healthcare data breaches. Therefore, healthcare providers will try to improve the security of their data systems in the coming years. The government is also playing its role in enhancing the privacy and security of patient data.
- Acute shortage of healthcare professionals: Experts predict that global demand for healthcare workers will reach 80 million by 2030. But there are going to be only 65 million healthcare workers in the world at this time. That means there will be a global shortage of 15 million workers. Countries will race to increase the pool of qualified workers to meet this need. Nontraditional modes of education will become popular as more people start to enter the sector. According to experts, general studies degrees online will become popular amongst students.
- Electronic health records: Every sector is undergoing rapid digitalization. Therefore most industries have begun to maintain electronic records. The healthcare industry is not far behind with its digital version of patient records called the Electronic Health Record (EHR). These EHRs are detailed and easily accessible. They contain all of the patient histories, from lab reports to recent diagnosis. The EHRs will soon become the new norm.
- Remote monitoring: Patients are going to use technology to bridge the gap between them and the doctors. These tools track patient data outside the conventional healthcare setting. Remote patient monitoring tools will become popular. More than 4 million patients currently use remote monitoring devices to monitor their conditions. But why will this happen? Because it is cost-efficient, easily accessible, and extremely helpful in regulating the state of chronically ill patients.
- Telehealth, telemedicine, and chatbots: If Covid19 has made one thing clear, it is to make zero contact consultation a reality. And it is achievable through telemedicine. Patients can send their reports to doctors via electronic devices. They may also get video consultations and interact with doctors. Development in this sector will mean that there will be smaller lines and less crowded clinics. Some healthcare providers have introduced chatbots to help patients schedule their appointments and set reminders for medication.
- Tracking the spread of viruses: The spread of viruses is easily traceable with surveillance technology. South Korea has recently used electronic transaction data, mobile logs, and surveillance footage to track the spread of COVID-19 to contain it. And they have been successful in this endeavor. Government apps track the location of possible spreaders. So, the healthcare sector will play an active role in integrating tech to contain the spread of viruses and diseases.
- AI technology in healthcare: Every sector is utilizing AI tech to improve processes and user interactions. And the healthcare system has also found a way to put AI tech to work in the hospital. AI can easily do a systemic review and meta-analysisof patients for a diagnosis. AI is capable of diagnosing diabetic retinopathy with a mere eye scan. Not only that, but AI can also do this process in a fraction of the time it takes a human to do so. The healthcare system will try to integrate AI tech into its infrastructure to reduce costs and improve processing times.
- More Wearables: Nowadays, every other person has wearable devices. These devices provide a lot of assistance to do DIY blood tests and record heartbeats. They can also alert the wearer about the ideal time to check vitals. Furthermore, alarms can be set in case the wearer’s vitals plummet. These devices will collect data over a long period. So they can provide valuable data to doctors to get a holistic view of the patient’s condition. Doctors can access data spanning weeks and months to make a correct diagnosis and understand the symptoms.
- The patient turns into a consumer: Patients will have to bear more of their healthcare costs. Therefore they will demand more access to billings, benefits, and network information. They will also become concerned about the value and quality of care they receive. And the healthcare providers have no choice but to play along. And if they do not do so, they might lose credibility. So direct primary care might become a reality in the future.
- Better payment options: Patients often complain about the complicated paymentoptions in the healthcare industry. The billing and payment system is outdated and overly complicated. A modern payment system can offer convenient billing. Customers might move towards real-time payments as most payments take some time to process. Not only will this be less of a burden for the patient, but it can also make it easier to predict cash flow.
Innovation can solve the biggest problems in this sector. It can streamline the payment procedures and make them more straightforward so that it is easier for everyone. Other areas of the healthcare sector are also evolving. Professionals will be relying on technology to give them valuable data they can use to make clear insights about patient conditions. AI tech is helping doctors make the right choices about patient treatments at the right time.
Furthermore, telemedicine and telehealth have reduced patient-doctor interaction to a minimum. These changes will not be limited to the national level. There is going to be a global change in how we provide healthcare services to our people.
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