By Ryan Beckland
The year ahead offers some promising trends—and optimizing the full potential of digital health will be the key to real progress. One of the reasons that meaningful use has not been as successful as hoped is lack of an infrastructure to support patient engagement and data exchange capabilities. Building that infrastructure is key to making sustainable changes to care delivery and to achieving the full transition to value-based care. That is why technology will be the KEY driver of healthcare trends in 2016.
In 2015, we saw great strides made by providers, payers, and pharmaceutical companies to change the way we deliver, access, and think about healthcare. With technology as the key driver of healthcare innovation in 2016, what can we expect?
In short, a lot. Here are four major trends that I predict for the coming year.
Patients’ expectations for care and care delivery are changing, and will force the industry to change.
Patients are going to drive healthcare in 2016 like never before. The consumerization of healthcare is positioning patients as the most important stakeholders in the move to a value-based system. Patients’ expectations for more accessibility, more affordability, and a better care experience are fostering competition among traditional brick-and-mortar providers.
Consumers have an expectation across all industries for digital services—for the convenience that web- and mobile- based amenities enable. Providers, pharma, and payers are being forced to create these remote and digital programs in order to meet patient expectations—or risk losing out to competitors offering these options.
We are going to see the evolution and increased sophistication of remote clinical technology
In 2016, physicians will begin to accelerate the adoption and integration of digital health in clinical care.
As devices continue to become more sophisticated, their role and relevance in the clinical setting is going to exponentially increase—especially with regard to wearables, which offer clinicians vital and real-time insights into a patient's health and daily routine.
- Wearables in the coming years will collect even more biometric data as biosensors advance. We’ll also continue to see promising developments in the ability to use non-invasive skin sensors to detect new data points.
- Digital therapies will also be big in the coming year, and more will be coming to market—especially in the form of ingestibles and implantables.
- Platforms will also play a key role. In conjunction with devices becoming more sophisticated, platforms and applications are also becoming smarter tools for consumers and will increasingly rely on analytics to provide more valuable health information—empowering consumers with the ability to self-identify health trends, triggers and potential health risks.
Providers are going to begin seriously tackling long-standing interoperability and data access challenges.
This year, we are going to see a greater focus placed on tackling interoperability and data access challenges in healthcare. We will see a ramp up in spending and investment in the infrastructure needed to create a more connected system to overcome the barriers that we have today.
There is going to be a shift in payment models to drive an outcome-based healthcare economy.
With technology integration and patient demands driving this new model of value-based care, changes to current payment models are the obvious next step. We all know that healthcare, which is still for the most part a fee-for-service structure, will need to transition to reimbursement for value instead of volume. We’re seeing signs of this transition, and because of these shifts in payment models, the lines between payer, pharma and provider services are continuing to blur and overlap.
For the most part, we understand the difficulty of the task ahead for the healthcare industry: improving health outcomes, bettering the patient experience, and reducing costs—all while maintaining a profitable bottom line. Each year seems to be a small step in the right direction, but we need to progress faster—and I believe technology will help us do it.
In my next segment, I’ll provide specific examples of how these trends are already taking shape. Stay tuned for more.