2024 Medical Industry Trends Are Expected to Expand on 2023 Performance

by Amy Brooksbank | Jan 18, 2024 |
2024 Medical Industry Trends Are Expected to Expand on 2023 Performance

Medical industry trend watchers have spoken. They expect 2024’s groundbreaking technologies, shifts in healthcare delivery, and progressive research methodologies to be critical in reshaping patient care, disease management, and the overall US healthcare landscape. Sound familiar? That’s because these and other broad trends aren’t new. Rather they are familiar topics that have been evolving over time. Yet, while the same trends seem to roll seamlessly from one year to the next, including those accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s the direction of the progress and innovation within each trend that’s worth watching. We’ll take a look at last year’s projections in two key, interdependent areas – healthcare staffing and medical technology – and see what’s driving experts’ predictions for 2024.

 

Which Trends Are Forecast to Impact Healthcare Staffing in 2024?

According to the Association for American Medical Colleges (AAMC), over 40% of physicians in the US will reach retirement age in the next 10 years. This is expected to leave a shortage of from 37,800 to 124,000 doctors by 2034. A chronic shortage of this magnitude is one of the key drivers of a workforce resilience focus that includes the ongoing integration of AI implementations, adding more telehealth professionals, and focusing on worker well-being. Below are several persistent trends that demonstrate how the intricate dance between technological advancements, human capital, and patient care will continue to shape the state of healthcare staffing in the coming year.

Reliance on Locum Tenens and Traveling Nursing

2023: Amidst the fluctuating demands for healthcare services, predictions suggested an increased reliance on traveling nurses and locum tenens to fill staffing gaps. The flexibility and adaptability offered by temporary staffing solutions were expected to mitigate shortages during peak demand periods.

Staffing Industry Analysts (SIA) projected a 10% increase in the locum tenens segment in 2023, and a continued upward trajectory in the utilization of travel nurses, acknowledging the pivotal role these groups play in maintaining workforce resilience. However, while the locum tenens segment of the healthcare staffing industry continued to boom last year, the travel nurse market appears to be settling into a new normal after experiencing robust growth in 2021 and 2022.

2024: Becker’s Hospital Review predicts that the 30,000 physicians expected to join the workforce this year will be inadequate to offset the loss of doctors due to retirement, reduction of clinic hours, or general churn. As a benchmark they point out that over 70,000 physicians left the workforce from 2021 to 2022. This points to a continuing and growing need for locum tenens solutions for future healthcare staffing.

healthcare staffing

Emphasis on Workforce Resilience and Flexibility

2023: The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the need for a highly skilled and adaptable workforce. Early forecasts for 2023 highlighted a surge in demand for specialized healthcare professionals, particularly in critical care, infectious diseases, and telehealth. Reports from the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) predicted that despite continued investment in education and training, doctor shortages and lack of access to quality healthcare would continue to be a challenge unless the workforce grows sufficiently. One effort AAMC is making to foster this growth is to support legislation such as the Physician Shortage Reduction Act of 2023.

2024: Building on last year’s experiences, healthcare staffing professionals are expected to continue to place a heightened emphasis on workforce resilience and flexibility in 2024. Deloitte reports that over half (57%) of medical industry executives expect talent shortages and workforce challenges to impact their 2024 strategies. Included alongside attracting and retaining clinical staff, many health system leaders are focused on mental health strategies like reducing clinician burnout.

The ongoing challenges posed by infectious diseases and the intensified focus on critical care expertise continues to drive the surge in demand for specialized healthcare professionals. For instance, the integration of telehealth professionals into the medical workforce is anticipated to continue expanding in 2024 as related technologies are rapidly adopted. The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) projects a compound annual growth rate for the telehealth industry of 24% through 2030. As digital medicine becomes a permanent fixture in healthcare delivery, the sustained demand for these skills is expected to shape recruitment strategies in 2024, with institutions continuing to actively seek professionals with expertise in virtual care, remote monitoring, and telemedicine technologies.

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Which Key Medical Technologies Are Forecasting Growth in 2024?

A leading force anticipated to continue to proliferate across the medical industry is the integration of cutting-edge technologies. Among the many types of emerging technologies, three areas in particular come into focus as key for 2024: artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, biotechnology and precision medicine, and telehealth and remote services. One thing these areas have in common is that patients and physicians alike need to be comfortable using technologies that were once considered the province of science fiction.

Advancements in Biotechnology and Precision Medicine

2023: Anticipated advancements in biotechnology, particularly gene editing techniques like CRISPR-Cas9, were expected to progress closer to clinical applications last year. Precision medicine was projected to gain momentum, offering tailored treatment strategies based on genetic profiles. However, the actual progression towards clinical applications by 2023 might have required longer-term research and regulatory processes, making the realization of these predictions uncertain.

2024: Expected technological advancements hold immense promise for the medical industry. Precision medicine is poised for groundbreaking developments and transformative changes in 2024. Its promise is to enable more precise and effective therapies, particularly in the area of rare diseases and oncology. CRISPR-based therapies and gene editing techniques are projected to move closer to clinical applications, potentially offering revolutionary treatment options for previously incurable genetic disorders. Regulatory bodies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the United States and the European Medicines Agency (EMA), are expected to closely monitor and regulate these advancements to ensure safety and efficacy.

healthcare staffing

Expansion of Telehealth and Remote Healthcare Services

2023: Projections indicated a sustained growth trajectory for telemedicine services, with a greater emphasis on remote healthcare access and the development of sophisticated telehealth platforms. At the beginning of 2023, Fortune Business Insights projected that the telehealth industry would grow by 17% per year through 2030. Reports suggested that telemedicine adoption is predicated on continued improvement in patient accessibility and reduced healthcare costs.

2024: The COVID-19 pandemic acted as a catalyst for the rapid adoption of telemedicine, marking a paradigm shift in healthcare delivery. As we progress into 2024, the widespread utilization of digital services is anticipated to persist and expand further. One concerted effort the AMA is making to help ease adoption of digital healthcare is to arm doctors with the information they need to make telehealth work for them and their practices. They launched a Digital Health Implementation Playbook series, which offers step-by-step guides, best practices, and key learnings about incorporating digital health services based on insights from across the medical community.

Integration of AI and Machine Learning

2023: Forecasts predicted increased integration of AI in various healthcare arenas, including diagnostics, personalized medicine, and predictive analytics. These uses of AI were expected to enhance disease detection accuracy and optimize treatment plans. According to a physician survey conducted by the American Medical Association (AMA), last year fewer than two in five (38%) of doctors used AI tools. The doctors reported that they were using AI mostly for easing administrative burdens such as the creation of discharge instructions, care plans, or progress notes (14%), documentation of billing codes, medical charts or visit notes (13%), translation services (11%), and assistive diagnosis (11%). Widespread ambivalence among those surveyed suggests that broader adoption of additional, more sophisticated AI uses will depend on physicians feeling more comfortable about data privacy assurances (87%) and not being held liable for AI model errors (87%).

2024: Deloitte reports that there is much room for growth in digital applications generally, estimating that healthcare organizations seem to be at only the midpoint in their adoption of technologies. Specifically, AI-powered personalized medicine technology that tailors treatment plans to individual genetic profiles and health data are expected to gain traction in 2024.

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A Brave New World

Medical industry watchers anticipate transformative changes in 2024 driven by technological innovation and evolving healthcare staffing paradigms. Cutting-edge technologies and a workforce adaptable to implement them are interdependent elements that together are expected to place a greater focus on more accurate tools and more personalized medicine, along with a more flexible workforce. Taken together, progress in these areas could collectively shape an industry characterized by enhanced accessibility, precision, and resilience against future challenges. If the promise of 2024 is to be realized, continued investments in research, technology and patient-centered care will be pivotal, ultimately leading to improved patient outcomes and a more sustainable healthcare ecosystem.

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