What to expect in 2021 and beyond? IDC offers 10 healthcare predictions

Its FutureScape 2021 report foresees a half-decade of health systems grappling with – and learning from – the COVID-19 disruption of the past year.
By Mike Miliard
04:12 PM

In the recent "IDC FutureScape: Worldwide Health Industry 2021 Predictions" report, experts at IDC Health Insights offer their thoughts about the issues healthcare and life science organizations will contend with over the next year and beyond.

WHY IT MATTERS

Unsurprisingly, 2021 will largely be shaped by "the disruptive forces of COVID-19," according to IDC, which sees the pandemic as having changed "everything across all verticals now and into the future."

Across organizations of all shapes and sizes, researchers see improved resilience, changes around supply chains and resource consumption, new approaches to data management and IT architecture – and a rethinking of relationships with both employees and healthcare consumers.

Here are IDC's 2021 predictions. Read more about each by accessing the full report.

  • The economic and clinical vulnerability resulting from the pandemic will drive 20% of healthcare organizations to embrace integrated care to improve outcomes during 2021.
  • By the end of 2021, seven of the 10 leading wrist-worn wearables companies will have released algorithms capable of early detection of potential signs of infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and the flu.
  • Accelerated by the emergence of the new coronavirus, investments by life science companies in digital initiatives to support the utilization of real-world evidence globally will double by 2022.
  • Alarmed by COVID-19 pandemic shortages, life science and healthcare provider companies will increase investments in AI and advanced analytics by 50% by 2022 to avoid future supply chain disruptions.
  • By 2023, 65% of patients will have accessed care through a digital front door as healthcare providers look for better ways to improve access, engagements and experiences across all services.
  • Fueled by COVID-19, digitally enabled remote care and clinical trials will drive 70% growth in spending on connected health technologies by providers and life-science companies by 2023.
  • By 2023, 60% of health insurance products will be characterized by two communities, standard or individualized, which will be portable and accommodate social determinants of health.
  • By 2024, the proliferation of data will result in 60% of healthcare organizations' IT infrastructure being built on a data platform that will use AI to improve process automation and decision-making.
  • To enable immersive training for healthcare professionals and enhance customer experience, 60% of providers will move from proof of concept to full deployment of AR/VR technologies by 2025.
  • By 2026, 65% of medical imaging workflows will use AI to detect underlying disease and guide clinical intervention, while 50% will use teleradiology to share studies and improve access to radiologists.

THE LARGER TREND

'Tis the season for crystal ball gazing, of course, and several recent reports from other research firms have offered their own predictions for what healthcare will look like in 2021.

A study from research and consulting giant PwC, for instance, sees six big challenges ahead, HITN Features Editor Bill Siwicki reports: "rightsizing after the telehealth explosion; adjusting to changing clinical trials; encouraging digital relationships that ease physician burdens; forecasting for an uncertain 2021; reshaping health portfolios for growth; and building a resilient and responsive supply chain for long-term health."

Other experts, meanwhile, foresee a future where health systems are "consumer-centric, wellness-oriented and digitally connected."

ON THE RECORD

"The 2021 worldwide health industry predictions focus on the disruptive forces of COVID-19 and how the pandemic changes everything," said Mutaz Shegewi, research director, IDC Health Insights, in a statement.

"The transformation taking shape in the new normal and journey that lays ahead toward the next normal presents with it many emerging opportunities, challenges, use cases, and lessons that will fast-forward healthcare and life sciences into an entirely unforeseen future."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

Taking Stock of Progress and Looking Ahead

This December, we look back at a challenging year – and forward to what we hope is a better, stronger, more connected and resilient healthcare ecosystem.

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