It’s been a time of upheaval in healthcare. Today is a far different, almost entirely new, industry than what existed simply ten years ago. The transition to ICD-10, widespread adoption of electronic health records, sophistication of data science… all of these are monumental shifts, and they’ve happened quickly and recently.

So quick, in fact, it has become almost impossible to stay on top of emerging trends and technologies. Things are happening though that will have a bottom-line impact on your practice, and we want you to stay ahead of the curve.

So, we’ve put together some of the top healthcare trends. Some are directly applicable to all specialties and practices, whereas some may be critical to only a few. Some should be addressed immediately, others can be implemented gradually to set you up for the future. Nevertheless, here they are:

Top Healthcare Trends

Personalized Medicine

The human genome contains roughly 3 billion lines of code. Our varied DNA means being prone to varied diseases. For example, some tumors have gene mutations that differentiate them (“not all melanomas are the same”), and have very different reactions to treatments. Physicians have treated conditions with “one-size-fits-all” treatment plans, where they’re sometimes performing trial-and-error. Not ideal, but it’s the best we have.

Personalized medicine—or, genomic analytics—will make our current methods seem archaic. With the read-out of the genome, doctors can pinpoint hereditary risks and an individual’s likely response to certain drugs. Essentially, this application will mean better prevention, more accurate diagnoses, safer prescriptions, and more effective treatments.

And more patient retention.

We will see “miracle cures” become more ubiquitous. And, the process of genome sequencing is becoming less expensive by the day.

Hospital Readmission Penalties

In August 2016, it was reported that 2,597 hospitals would face readmission penalties this year, and that CMS would withhold $500 million in payments. While that number was a reduction in hospitals, their amount in withholdings had increased.

The solution is available, but hospitals have put it off – find a way to monitor and stay engaged with their patients after releasing them.

For most, this comes in the form of an online platform, one that’s designed for providers to have information from multiple sources – admission, scheduling, medical records. The doctors can then track the patient’s post-acute care or if they enter another hospital.

This is also contingent on participation from all parties, including the patient, who are sometimes reticent to use technology.

Which leads to our next trend…

Patient’s Adoption of Technology

The generation of 18-35 year olds are quicker to adapt here; the older generations express a lesser desire to engage with technology.

However, telehealth is becoming widespread as a means of saving trips to the physician. After all, not every situation requires a physical meeting. Some doctors have based their practice entirely online (we realize this isn’t practical for everyone), and some conduct a majority of their conversations and consultations via online video.

Imagine, with the use of video conferencing, how many more patients a practice can schedule.

Then there’s the wearables, the consumer technology that’s sweeping the healthcare field. Most common are ones that record steps and calories, like FitBit. Others exist though that can monitor blood pressure, body temperature, vision quality, even an electrocardiogram (which, currently, can only be given by doctors).

Wearable devices are expected to top 38 million in unit sales this year, and your practice would be wise to stay on top of new releases.

The Continued Surge of Data Analytics

We’ve seen it in small and big business, restaurants, even baseball teams. Why should the use of ‘big data’ in healthcare come as a surprise?

The use of data analytics has been proven to improve cash flow by reducing days in A/R, and also identifying roadblocks for reimbursements, thus quickening the process.

So why isn’t everyone doing it? Lack of time and resources is a huge objection, according to a survey by Navicure.

It’s reasonable; however, plenty of tools exist that can streamline the process. One is Tableau, a data-visualization software program that “can build a dashboard in eight minutes or less”. One particular user, Community Health Center Network (CHCN), which serves about 200,000 patients in the San Francisco area, claims a “12% drop in emergency room visits, and 14% decrease in hospital readmissions”. Quite important, considering our earlier trend.

Online Transparency of Healthcare Providers

It’s little known that, when Yelp was created in 2004, a chief intended use was to help users find a good doctor or hospital. This is why listings for hospitals and clinics will include average emergency room wait times, facility fines, and any serious reported allegations.

Moreover, studies showed that patients are willing to drive further distances and endure longer wait times for a more satisfactory healthcare provider.

What can you do as a provider?

Well, with the advent of social media, the public values transparency more than ever. Some healthcare organizations will publish physician ratings, good or bad, on their actual website.

This has two main takeaways – it increases accountability of physicians, and it builds trust with patients.

As we said earlier, some of these trends are happening now, and some are ones you may be wise to prepare for, or at least keep in mind. If you have any questions about how these may apply to your practice, or would like more information in general, please don’t hesitate to contact us at MBA Medical.