By the end of the first quarter of 2020, it was clear that healthcare was changing at rapid rates. Not entirely out of the circumstances surrounding the global pandemic, but because of advancements in technology. While technology drives a lot of the healthcare industry, there are economic trends that are affecting healthcare as a whole.

5 Healthcare Trends in 2020

Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is making waves across the nation, but especially in healthcare. It is used from diagnostics to creating treatment plans. 

Electronic information is gathered more quickly and efficiently in urgent and primary care settings. This allows patients to spend more time with their doctors than in the waiting room. 

Other examples of AI-technology include: 

  • Automated coding reduces cost and improves reliability. 
  • Chatbots on websites improve the patient experience and provide real-time resources and information.
  • Gathered data can help provide further information to support clinical decisions regarding diagnoses. 

Healthcare Consolidation

The continuation of progress towards an integrated healthcare industry is making health systems evolve quickly. New partnerships as a part of value-based healthcare help reduce inefficiencies and improve care coordination for patients. The intention is to improve clinical outcomes and support for patients, however there are still some risks associated with consolidation. 

Increased consolidation results in higher healthcare costs as large hospital systems use their size to their advantage. This will also narrow the field of options for patients, which creates dominance by fewer entities. 

Consumerism

Because of technological advances, patients are taking their healthcare into their own hands. This means they are doing extensive online research before booking an appointment with a physician, understanding what their options are, and using technology. Because consumers are taking on more of the financial responsibilities concerning their healthcare, they are looking for the best value of care at the lowest cost. This is causing healthcare providers to be more transparent in their prices. This is of particular interest to providers because as 80% of consumers research treatment options online, their online reputation is crucial. Managing information, reviews, and data online about your practice or hospital system is trusted as much as an in-person referral to patients. And, in order to offer full transparency to patients, more hospital systems are publishing the prices they offer payers for services.  

Growth of Outpatient Services

There has been a shift from inpatient to outpatient facilities. Because of advances in technology and healthcare practices, surgeries and diagnostic procedures that traditionally required an inpatient stay can be done in an outpatient facility. These procedures are done safely and effectively. Outpatient care is preferred by the majority of patients because it is financially smart and improves the patients’ experience. 

For practices, there are incentives for providing care in an outpatient setting as opposed to an inpatient hospital facility. Providers should be working on a strategy that focuses on growth and financial capabilities for outpatient, and even mobile, services. 

Telehealth

Telehealth has been growing over the last few years, and there is no slowing it down. Because of the global pandemic, it is the preferred method of treatment by many patients and physicians. Telehealth helps physicians follow up and treat patients from a distance, from the comfort of their own home. This is a more efficient way to see patients for many practices, because it increases the number of patients they can see during a day, and lowers the cost of daily operations.