The state of modern health care is constantly in flux, as the worlds of medicine and technology continue to converge and reshape one another. With innovation and reform happening more rapidly than ever before, we’re predicting 2019 will be a breakthrough year for the industry and its stakeholders. Some of those breakthroughs will be technological, while others will have more to do with our approach to patient care. From value-based care to personalized medicine, here are five health care trends you can expect to see this year:
1. Value-based care
Some of 2018’s biggest buzzwords were patient dissatisfaction and physician burnout. And in 2019, value-based care will take their place. Value-based care rewards caregivers for providing effective care, whereas the traditional fee-for-service model rewards providers based on the amount of patients they see, tests they run, and procedures they perform. In doing so, caregivers must hold themselves accountable for their service while fostering a closer provider-patient relationship.
Value-based reimbursements incentivize providers to use evidence-based medicine, engage patients, upgrade their IT systems, and pay close attention to data analytics. Demonstrating quality and improvement – for example, in the form of reduced hospital readmissions and increased patient engagement – is the goal.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is still in the process of honing their rules regarding payments and care-delivery methods. But already, they are championing the results of value-based care.
2. Technology and interoperability
Why? Because it must. The inability to organize and analyze siloed health care data has held the industry back long enough. In 2019, the entrance of tech companies and the development of new digital health platforms will continue to improve data sharing across organizational boundaries. Optimizing the flow of information between various systems, devices, and applications will ensure physicians have access to everything they need to make safe, proactive decisions on behalf of their patients. Improved alignment and exchange capabilities could also help reduce waste in the form of errors and unnecessary costs, such as duplicate testing; boost patient satisfaction by centralizing access to health records online; and help payers better assess the value and quality of clinical services.
Blockchain, of course, will play a major role in keeping medical records and sensitive patient information secure during transmission. Meanwhile, collecting and monitoring data from wearable and mobile devices could give stakeholders yet another source of insight regarding their patients’ well-being. The adoption of electronic visit verification (EVV) systems equipped with GPS and automation technology, for example, will help states and payers address the rise in patient demand for home health care as well as the prevalence of fraud and improper payments.
3. Precision medicine
Doctors, researchers, and investors agree: the future of medicine is personal. From IBM to 23andMe to the White House, it seems like everyone is turning their focus to the emerging field of personalized medicine, also known as precision medicine. This targeted approach considers age, gender, diet, genetics, and other factors to develop treatment plans and recommend preventative measures for rare and common diseases alike. To go from fighting disease to treating people and protecting health is a major shift in thinking, and it will take time for the industry to prepare. But for patients battling cancer, cystic fibrosis, and other diseases, precision medicine could improve outcomes and minimize debilitating side effects.
4. Medicare Advantage
While Medicare parts A, B, and D cover expenses related to hospital visits, preventative care, diagnostics, and prescription drugs, Medicare Advantage bundles all your coverage into one plan. Medicare Advantage not only covers the expenses listed above, but also dental, hearing, and vision-related expenses. The best part? A Medicare Advantage plan will likely cost you less than an original Medicare plan, in addition to providing more benefits. Of course, there may be drawbacks. Medicare Advantage plans may limit you to a regional network of participating providers, and require referrals or authorizations for certain services, including hospital stays and home health care. But so long as you follow the plan’s rules to receive payment for covered services, Medicare Advantage will likely be more affordable and convenient than its predecessor.
5. Non-traditional modes of care
Virtual health care and home health care will continue to garner a surge in interest as insured and uninsured individuals of all ages look for more accessible ways to receive care. Already, 76 percent of U.S. hospitals connect with patients and consulting practitioners at a distance through the use of video and other technology according to the American Hospital Association’s telehealth fact sheet. And by 2020, home health care spending is expected to outpace all other forms of care.
The ability to connect with and be assessed by a physician in real-time without setting foot inside their facility could have major implications for patients in rural areas, homebound patients, patients who would like to age-in-place, and patients with busy or inflexible work schedules. Telemedicine could also help the health industry cope with looming physician shortages. These services won’t necessarily replace traditional care, yet. But they will serve as a meaningful supplement to the services provided by urgent care clinics, private practices, and hospitals.
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