The health industry is constantly changing to better serve consumers and keep costs from spiraling out of control. Whether you work in a hospital or private practice, it's important to stay on top of new shifts. Here are some of the top trends expected to affect the health care field in 2016.
1. Mergers and Acquisitions
Standalone hospitals are merging with each other to create large health systems. These mergers create new business opportunities, but they also affect consumers. In rural areas, hospital closures force consumers to travel farther for the care they need.
2. Investigation of Medical Costs
Companies in the health industry want to know the true cost of providing care to patients. As they search for answers, executives may discover new ways to improve efficiency.
3. Data Analysis
The health industry uses data to improve outcomes, reduce costs and increase patient satisfaction scores. In 2016, expect health systems to use new tools to analyze data more efficiently.
4. High-Tech Care
Patients and medical professionals are using smartphones and tablets to manage care. Medical apps help patients track their weight, blood pressure, blood sugar and symptoms, while high-tech tools help care providers make better diagnostic decisions.
5. Focus on Behavioral Health
Clinicians and employers are banding together to keep employees happy and reduce behavioral health costs. Because the health industry often focuses on physical well-being, this is a real shift in some areas of the country.
6. Drug-Pricing Formulas
When it comes to drug pricing, manufacturers face many challenges. Consumers and politicians believe drug prices are too high, but manufacturers worry about driving costs down so much that they can't afford to research new products. In 2016, expect to see pharmaceutical companies try to justify the costs of the drugs they produce.
7. Community Care
Facilities in the health industry have to use their resources wisely. Large health systems are now transferring some patients to community hospitals, freeing up resources to treat the critically ill without sacrificing quality.
8. Lower-Cost Drug Alternatives
Manufacturers are releasing biosimilar drugs, which are designed to be a low-cost alternative to the expensive biologics used to treat cancer and autoimmune diseases. These drugs may help patients control symptoms without spending a fortune on medication.
Hackers love to target the health industry due to the wealth of patient information stored in the databases of hospitals, clinics and insurance companies. Health executives are looking for ways to improve security and protect the integrity of private data.
10. Health Care Spending Issues
High-deductible plans are more common than ever, forcing consumers to look for new ways to manage their health spending. Employers also have a vested interest in helping employees cut costs. As a result, look for new incentive programs and cost-management tools to enter the health care field.
The health industry must constantly evolve to meet the needs of consumers and clinicians. If you care for patients, be sure to stay on top of these trends in 2016 and beyond.
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