2021 Healthcare Trends to Watch
Technology has always been at the core of the healthcare industry, with innovation changing the way care is delivered in hospitals and medical practices. New devices, methodologies, and practices are introduced every year, but there are certain trends that may get embraced more in 2021. With the pandemic forcing the sector to undergo an unforeseen digital transformation, there are some popular trends that are likely to become more prominent in the New Year. Here are some of the major healthcare trends to watch out for in 2021:
Increasing Prominence of Telehealth
With the COVID-19 pandemic causing massive disruption to the healthcare sector, telemedicine was pushed to the forefront. In March, Medicare requirements for telemedicine were lifted, making it easier for patients and doctors to go on virtual visits. Physicians were able to dispense advice, provide patient care education, conduct monitoring, and even perform remote admissions. Analysts revealed that the telehealth market size in 2019 was around $45 billion, but now it’s projected to balloon to more than $175 billion by 2026.
Telehealth interactions could also reach one billion by 2021 due to the social distancing measures being increasingly enforced in doctor’s offices. Given this, physicians must now ensure that the virtual visits are as glitch-free as possible by investing in high-end teleconferencing equipment and following the same clinical guidelines as they would in an in-person setting.
Crowdsourcing Medical Diagnoses
Crowdsourcing medical diagnoses is not a new concept, but the Netflix show aptly named ‘Diagnosis’ has put a spotlight on the practice. The series follows Dr. Lisa Sanders as she embarks on the challenge of helping patients with rare illnesses. She searches for a diagnosis using crowdsourcing instead of relying on the traditional methods. The popularity of the show has already led to more people choosing this method, and due to a lack of access to medical resources in 2020 due to the pandemic, this will likely increase even more in 2021.
However there is likely to be opposition from doctors and health specialists. Karen Schechter, a healthcare consultant explains that the greatest obstacle a patient will likely face is their provider’s resistance to discussing the information they found themselves. Even if it’s from a reputable source. Schechter points out that while doctors should always take unverified information with a grain of salt, they should also respect patients enough to listen to their concerns and collaborate on decisions about their care. This is especially true if the patient has had the condition for an extended period of time with little to no change. With an increased lack of trust between many in the public and those in healthcare, crowdsourcing medical diagnoses in 2021 could become more commonplace.
Data and AI Paving the Way for Fairer Health Insurance
There’s a deluge of data circulating in the healthcare space concerning the medical history and activity of patients. From patients’ previous health services, diagnoses, and medication, to their genetic data and vulnerability to certain conditions, healthcare is a goldmine for practical patient information. With pertinent data easily within reach, providers are more capable of offering a complete picture of where and when intervention may be needed. This underscores how the healthcare and insurance industries are part and parcel of the data revolution, which has prompted a higher demands for data specialists in these fields. Indeed, an analysis from Maryville University regarding nursing careers reveals extreme demands for nursing specialists in informatics, genetics, management, and public health. Apart from healthcare itself, these specific data-rich nursing specializations will be increasingly valuable to insurance providers in the future as well.
As the pandemic has increased patients’ willingness to share personal data – especially when the benefits to their health are communicated – the pertinent data is there for the taking. And with help from the aforementioned specialists, leveraging this data will be easier than ever before. Since many Americans have been avoiding hospitals and surgeries this year, there will be an increased reliance on AI-driven prediction tools to identify where resources can be used efficiently. And apart from healthcare data specialists, insurance providers are likely to also rely on advanced predictive technology to understand risk and set premiums more accurately.
Rising Popularity of the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT)
These days, almost all healthcare interactions involve some sort of medical device or equipment, from a blood pressure monitor to an MRI scanner. There are thousands of medical technologies available, most of which have the capacity to collect, analyze, and transmit health data, and change the way providers approach delivering care to patients. As the technology advances, the process of tracking, preventing, and tackling illnesses will also improve.
Experts posit that the IoMT may be able to save the healthcare industry a whopping $300 billion in expenditures annually, all thanks to effective remote patient monitoring and improved medication adherence. It doesn’t matter where the patient is from — even those in remote locations will benefit from better care made possible by medical devices.
Learn More About Our Guest Contributor Ayla Collins:
Ayla Collins is a dedicated writer and single mom. She is passionate about bringing important topics closer to the people who need to know about them. When she’s not working on a new piece, you’ll find her baking cookies with her kids.