For the healthcare industry, 2017 brings a new year of uncertainty, but also the chance for opportunity. It is important for physicians and practitioners to know the trends and outlooks facing the healthcare industry. Knowing the top healthcare trends to watch allows healthcare personnel to prepare themselves, even in the face of ambiguity.
Between the headlines of President-elect Donald Trump threatening to repeal ACA and advances in healthcare technology, 2017 is primed to be one of the most disrupting years in the healthcare industry.
Let’s take a look at four of the top healthcare trends you should expect to emerge in the New Year.
1. The Future of the Affordable Care Act
Since announcing he would look to repeal Obamacare under his presidency, Trump has the entire healthcare industry at almost a standstill. Many healthcare providers are trying to figure out what is going to happen and how to prepare their staff and patients for changes. This is one of the top healthcare trends to watch for after Trump is inaugurated.
While no easy feat, if the ACA were turned over, it would add 20 million more uninsured Americans. Hospitals in states that expanded Medicare could find themselves with significant increases in uncompensated care. Insurers would be greatly affected, as they would lose most of the $1.9 trillion in Federal ACA subsidies.
What to Expect
Physicians should expect to start the New Year under the same rules and policies of the ACA. If your patients ask you what to expect, consumers will likely see higher healthcare premiums. However, many insurers are going to follow the plan they have already made for this year, so we may not see immediate changes.
To be honest, I don’t think a single person knows what to expect out of the healthcare industry, as it will relate to Trump’s policies. But, we will probably we see some changes to the legislation sometime during this year.
2. High-Tech HealthCare Trends
The healthcare industry has been one of the last to adopt emerging technologies. This is one reason that healthcare technology will be one of the top healthcare trends to watch in 2017.
This may be the year that we see a mass adoption in various healthcare technologies. Not only for managing or increasing access to medical care, these technologies may have significant impacts on business models, operations, workforce needs, and cyber security risks.
We have already seen many examples of how 3D printing is changing healthcare. But, high-tech healthcare is about more than just printing prosthetics and internal body parts. This year we will see one or some of the following types of technologies revolutionize the healthcare industry:
- Artificial intelligence (AI)
- Augmented reality (AR)
- Virtual reality (VR)
- Internet of Things (IoT)
- 3d printing
What to Expect
On our sister site, I discussed the challenges to telehealth adoption. The healthcare industry will have to figure out how to overcome some of those obstacles so that we can begin implementing new medical technologies on a greater scale.
Expect healthcare providers to look at how technologies can be used together instead of each piece of technology separately. Healthcare providers will likely develop comprehensive strategies as they look to define their role in a digital healthcare economy.
Expect technological changes to influence new talent. Will healthcare providers look to train current staff to use new technologies, or will they look to hire employees with those digital skills? Becoming acquainted with the new telemedicine technologies can be beneficial for any physician looking to change jobs.
3. Growing Role of Nutrition
With the recent push for value-based care, healthcare providers have been shifting their focus to nutrition as a way to prevent costly future medical issues. Another reason why this will be one of the top healthcare trends to watch in 2017 is because of these staggering statistics:
- 40 percent of American adults are obese
- 24 percent of all Americans have at least one diet-related medical condition
- 20 million Americans live in communities lacking access to nutritious food (food desert)
It is well known that eating healthy and remaining active are fantastic ways to keep your body healthy and reduce the risk of various health conditions. This year, we will see healthcare personnel looking to help patients become their best selves.
What to Expect
On one hand, we will see employers looking to implement or up the ante on employee wellness programs in hopes of lowering medical care costs. For physicians, you should expect your patients to request diet/nutritional resources, services or information. You may find that you are getting more questions or concerns regarding a patient’s weight or diet practices.
As a doctor, and especially when working locum tenens, this means you need to be more aware of the diet-related needs of the community you are serving. You should pay attention to the prevalent chronic diseases, access to nutritional foods, and any social factors that may affect patient health.
4. Drug Pricing Accountability
After all the things we have seen this year, like pharma kickback scandals or the EpiPen pricing scandal, the biopharmaceutical industry’s drug pricing is under immense pressure. This will be one the most watched top healthcare trends to watch in 2017 that could have some very positive effects.
Because Big Pharma is under scrutiny as it deals with their pricing, we may see executives and individuals within the industry look to deal with the pricing issue. Why would an industry known for their unethical practices and price hiking want to impose pricing restrictions on themselves?
Well, if the government has to impose price regulations, there will probably be some highly restrictive pricing policy legislation. Also, there is a public demand for accountability as many of Big Pharma’s issues were brought into the light this year.
What to Expect
As pharmaceutical companies look to deal with their pricing issues this year, you can expect to see the industry commit to transparent and responsible practices. They will be looking to rebuild trust not only with consumers but physicians and insurers as well.
You can also expect for partnerships to form between drugmakers and healthcare providers as they look to improve health care and lower costs simultaneously.
We may also see the rise of healthcare tech startups that will use new technologies to recreate some of these incredibly expensive drugs at a fraction of the price. We saw this happen after the Martin Shkreli AIDS-pill price scandal. Students from Australia recreated the drug and are selling it there for about 13 Australian dollars per 50 pills.