Top Physician Practice Trends in 2021
Physician practice trends are constantly evolving, and new tech advances and obstacles come up every year. Physicians represent 58.4 percent of the medical profession, and they are integral to meeting the society’s need for access to affordable, high-quality healthcare services.
This discipline is entering a new era where population growth, the forecasted physician shortage, and the recent global coronavirus pandemic have made the last couple of years especially challenging. While lockdowns and travel restrictions are slowly easing down, the lingering effects of the COVID-19 have thrown several healthcare trends into the limelight.
In this article, we take a look at 5 physician practice trends in 2021 and beyond.
5 Physician Practice Trends
1) Patients Turning to Telemedicine First
Telemedicine is becoming more and more popular as it offers an alternative to traditional in-person medical care. The trend has only grown stronger over the past decade with increasing populations, advances in technology, and regulatory changes. Some healthcare providers report an increase in telehealth patients by up to 50 times when compared to previous years. This uptick can also be explained by the lockdown restrictions faced by many, due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Previously telemedicine was considered as a stop-gap measure, but consumer perception appears to be shifting. Indeed, while only 11 percent of consumers in the USA were using telehealth services prior to the coronavirus pandemic, latest reports suggest that 76 percent of patients are currently interested in using telehealth. This technology is expected to evolve further, which will enhance convenience, potentially reduce health delivery costs and improve patient outcomes.
2) Agile Supply Chain Management
The COVID-19 exposed the flaws of the healthcare supply chain landscape. Indeed, many healthcare organizations are dependent on global suppliers, and the sudden supply chain disruption during the pandemic drastically impacted healthcare delivery. This, in turn, resulted in widespread shortages of medical supplies and a sharp surge in price. To avoid this scenario in the future, many healthcare providers are focusing on agile supply chain management.
Healthcare organizations must find the right balance between product price, performance, and vendor trust. For example, only aiming for the lowest price can be a risky move if the vendor cannot guarantee a steady supply. Moreover, it is essential for healthcare businesses to develop relationships with backup suppliers as well. Finally, it is vital to always have the right information at hand to make a decision, such as the number of in-stock items or storage space available.
3) Cooperative Competition
Commonly known as coopetition, cooperative competition in the healthcare sector is rapidly gaining traction. In this model, healthcare stakeholders work together in order to lower the cost of care, while maintaining a positive revenue. When done right, cooperative competition allows healthcare providers to offload financially draining services and instead, focus on their core specialties.
In a coopetition model, new entrants are seen as an opportunity to reach more consumers. For example, partnering with large retailers or event organizers who provide mammography services can be rewarding for all parties, given that only 50 percent of women aged 40 and older are getting screening mammograms. This would translate into more convenient healthcare delivery, less follow-up care for unaffected women, faster diagnosis, and (very likely) treatment. Cooperative competition allows healthcare providers to expand to new markets while contributing to improved community health.
4) More Automation
Automation and AI have been steadily making their way in various industries over the last decade. This trend is likely to accelerate in the healthcare space in the coming years as technology evolves further. When properly implemented, automation can enhance the workflow and reduce administrative burdens. For instance, using an employee scheduling software instead of traditional attendance books or spreadsheets can considerably save you time.
Moreover, Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have gained massive traction over the last decade and will likely improve further as technology progresses. It is estimated that physicians spend approximately 35 percent of their time on clinical documentation. The adoption of EHR systems reportedly reduces documenting patient data by 8 percent. Future advancements, such as compiling clinical data with voice recognition apps, will likely result in even more productivity gains for healthcare businesses.
5) Predictive Analytics to Support Clinical Care
Predictive analytics will be a game-changer in clinical care. It is the next frontier in the quest to lower healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes. Predictive models can identify treatments that patients are most likely to need and the times when they should take them. They can also identify individuals who would benefit from medical intervention before illness or disease has taken hold, such as monitoring for early signs of diabetes, heart failure, or pneumonia.
Improving the quality metrics tied to the Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) appears to be key before widespread adoption. This data will be used for predictive analytics, along with clinical outcomes, and will likely provide a roadmap for interventions that could help prevent complications and improve the patient experience. Similarly, expect to see patient data captured and predictions to be shared and compared among healthcare providers.
The current physician practice trends show that there is room for the healthcare industry to evolve and change for the better. The post-pandemic world represents an opportunity to develop and grow the healthcare sector from both a social and scientific perspective. The future will see a shift from physician-driven medicine to one that is patient-centric, with patients taking an active role in their healthcare. Taking advantage of these opportunities might possibly give us an edge over future pandemics.
More about our guest contributor Derek Jones: Derek spearheads key initiatives at Deputy, a global workforce management platform for employee scheduling, timesheets and communication. With a focus on healthcare, Derek helps business owners and workforce leaders simplify employment law compliance, keep labor cost in line and build award-winning workplaces. Derek has over 16 years’ experience in delivering data-driven sales and marketing strategies to SaaS companies like MarketSource and Griswold Home Care.