Healthcare has been moving toward the digital world for the better part of five or six years. The move was boosted in 2020 by the onset of the coronavirus. With 2021 now here, expect to see a number of digital trends emerge as a result of healthcare shifting gears to accommodate what has truly become a whole new world.
As a broker, you would do well to pay attention to these trends. Watch them closely and learn how they will impact your clients. The more informed you are, the easier it will be to offer your clients exactly what they need for 2021 and beyond.
From our perspective, the following five digital health trends are the ones to watch over the next 10 to 12 months:
1. A Marriage of Telehealth and Home Care
In-home care by way of visiting nurses has been a staple of our system for decades. While coronavirus did impact it, the impact was minimal. Meanwhile, coronavirus also forced our healthcare industry to fully embrace telehealth. In 2021, expect to see home care and telehealth converge.
Telehealth is an excellent tool for accessing limited healthcare services remotely. But it has its limitations. Many of those limitations are overcome by combining telehealth visits with in-person care provided by NPs, PAs, and RNs. A limited number of providers are already looking at offering a combined care option.
2. The Phone Becomes a Member of the Healthcare Team
Smartphones are capable of enhancing healthcare delivery in a number of ways. Dedicated apps make it possible for patients to record relevant information their doctors might need. Phones can be combined with wearables to monitor patient health. Indeed, the possibilities are endless. This year expect the phone to become an integrated member of the healthcare team. It will be used by patients and providers alike to enhance delivery.
3. Preventative Medicine Will Embrace AI
Artificial intelligence (AI) has finally reached the point of being usable for predictive analysis. Expect AI to become a crucial tool for preventative medicine in the coming year. Healthcare providers will rely more on it to help patients understand their health risks. AI will be used to formulate better prognoses and treatments based on predictive outcomes.
4. Outcome-Based Care Will Get the Attention It Deserves
Passage of the Affordable Care Act required healthcare facilities to concentrate on outcomes-based care rather than the older fee-for-service model. Yet adoption of the outcome paradigm has been slow, at best. Expect that to change this year. With the move toward digital services, the old model is no longer sustainable. Service providers can no longer separate outcomes from the bottom line. A more integrated approach will be necessary as we navigate delivering healthcare in a digital environment. To put it simply, outcome-based care will finally get the attention it deserves.
5. Digital Therapies Will Become Prescription Friendly
In the years leading up to the onset of coronavirus, the healthcare sector was already looking at a range of digital therapies. For example, mental health professionals have been looking at phone-based apps capable of delivering therapeutic interventions.
Digital therapies have proven successful in some cases. As more are developed, expect them to become prescription friendly. Expect doctors, NPs, and PAs to be more willing to prescribe digital therapies instead of pharmaceuticals.
The healthcare sector has undergone an entire paradigm shift over the last 12 months. As a result, the emergence of these digital trends seems almost inevitable. Keep an eye on them in the coming year. They could very well play a significant role in your business movi