As the year comes to a close, we are looking back at all of the trends that shaped healthcare in 2019. Below are the ways in which healthcare has moved toward progress, shifted the new normal, and worked toward a higher standard of care this year.
The United States healthcare system continues to move toward reform in the ways that health care is delivered and paid for. Value-based programs reward healthcare providers with incentive payments based on the quality of care that they give to people. This allows providers to focus on the quality of their care, rather than quantity. In 2019, Definitive Healthcare polled 1,090 healthcare leaders about value-based care. 48% of survey respondents saw fewer medical errors and better outcomes as the biggest benefit of value-based care. In 2020, look for more mandatory participation in value-based models as a standard.
Over 2 million Americans have an addiction to prescription or illicit opioids. In 2019, President Donald Trump declared the opioid crisis a national emergency. He ordered U.S. mail carriers to block shipments of the most powerful and dangers opioid and fentanyl being imported from other countries. Executive agencies have been working to fight the opioid crisis and educate the public on the dangers of it, and many states are now suing pharmaceutical companies, accusing them of causing the epidemic.
In April 2018, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) published new limits for high-dose opioid prescriptions for Medicare Part D users. This pairs with new CDC guidelines for prescribing opioids for chronic pain. Expect a continued focus on the opioid epidemic, including treatment options for this large community of people.
Telehealth includes a broad range of technologies and services that work to improve patient care and healthcare delivery. Telehealth solutions have expanded access to care, made health management easier for patients, and improved the efficiency of healthcare delivery. In 2019, about one-third of inpatient hospitals and 45 percent of outpatient facilities provide telehealth solutions. Since 84 percent of commercial insurance subscribers have said they would use video or online services if they were offered, this is an area that still has some room to grow into in 2020 and beyond.
Personal Concierge™ is a remote care coordination program that can help providers reach their patients in their moment of need. Learn more about it here »
External market disruption
Health solutions are no longer limited to traditional providers, payors, and pharmaceutical companies. In 2019, major external market corporations have become more involved in creating solutions in health. Companies like Amazon, Apple, and Uber are getting involved in the $3.7 trillion healthcare industry, bringing their innovation to a sector that can be slow to adapt.
In August 2019, Amazon launched Amazon Care, a primary care clinic for Amazon employees in Seattle. Amazon Care offers high-quality virtual care, in-person visits, and prescription deliveries. Right now, only Amazon employees and their families are eligible to enroll in Amazon Care as they pilot the program but expect solutions like these to roll out for patients nationwide in the future.
What will 2020 bring?
As the healthcare industry continues to evolve and innovate, there are a number of things on the horizon to keep an eye on. Those include:
- 5G technology
- Virtual reality and augmented reality
- 3D printing
- Wearable tech
The use of these innovations in healthcare will lend itself to even more advancements in the new decade than we saw in 2019, and exciting things to come.