2019 saw the emergence of new technologies and shifts in how payers, providers and patients interact and approach healthcare. While some of these trends may slow, during the next year, several trends will become more pronounced and begin to drive significant changes with material impacts on all stakeholders. Take a look at the top trends we anticipate for 2020.
1. Large Technology Companies Investing in Healthcare
Large technology companies will increasingly invest in the healthcare space beyond health IT and offer new healthcare products and services targeted directly at consumers/patients and providers. This includes:
• Amazon: Pharmacy services, cloud AI platforms
• Google: Fitness, diagnostic and disease management tools, documentation tools for providers
• Apple: Aggregated health and fitness records, mobile health apps and devices
• Microsoft: Clinical intelligence solutions, cloud AI platforms
All of the above companies are actively expanding the use of virtual assistants for healthcare use cases.
The market behaviors and actions of major technology companies will produce new advances in both products and services but will also yield pushback from legislators, regulators and smaller competitors. These companies will continue to encroach on the traditional turf of healthcare providers and vendors.
2. Privacy ProtectionPrivacy Protection will increasingly be a priority for regulators, and enforcement will become much more rigorous, with major penalties imposed on violators. Scrutiny will be particularly intense on companies that collect, use and sell consumer data without fully informing consumers and gaining their explicit consent.
Privacy protection will emerge as a key element of new legislation and enforcement will stiffen, resulting in major fines and penalties. This will be a global phenomenon, with significant actions expected in both the U.S. and the EU.
3. Cybersecurity RisksCybersecurity risks will continue to increase in the healthcare industry,and many providers will struggle to protect their data, applications and infrastructure. Breaches will increase in both number and size. Organizations will seek more comprehensive identity & access management solutions from vendors that can address a broad set of integrated requirements.
Healthcare organizations will continue to be plagued by privacy breaches and hacking incidents. The industry, as a whole, will attempt to address cybersecurity risks but will still fall short in many cases.
4. Voice InterfacesConversational user interfaces will become increasingly prevalent for both provider and patient applications,and virtual assistants will become increasingly important for customer service, patient engagement, clinical documentation and care management.
Voice interfaces and virtual assistants for healthcare use cases will reach critical mass in the coming year and will drive improvements in provider/patient interaction and healthcare service delivery.
5. Artificial Intelligence ToolsA.I. will be actively developed and applied to healthcare use cases with major advances in risk prediction, population health management, clinical diagnosis and medical research. At the same time, regulators will increasingly demand audits and assurances that the tools are working as intended and do not incorporate biased and/or defective algorithms.
Artificial intelligence will begin to play a larger role in healthcare, with major advances in clinical research and population health management being realized, along with diagnostic advances, particularly for imaging. Progress will be less significant in the short term for broader clinical decision support tools because of a lack of trust in the underlying algorithms, but this will accelerate over the long term as these issues are addressed and resolved.
6. 5G Technology and Networks
5G technology and networks will expand significantly and will drive many new healthcare applications and use cases, including more widespread remote patient monitoring, telemedicine and teleradiology.
Implementation of 5G networks will accelerate in the coming year, with substantial improvements in speed and capacity, but the slow release of required end-point equipment will hamper the rollout of new applications in the near term. Longer-term, remote patient monitoring use cases will proliferate, and existing telemedicine and teleradiology applications will be significantly enhanced in terms of speed and transmission quality.
7. Mobile Health Apps
Mobile health apps will play a greater role in the delivery of healthcare services and provider/patient communication with increasing development of specialty-specific tools to manage conditions, surgical procedures and complex medication regimes.
Mobile health apps will continue to grow and gain traction in vertical specialties for the delivery of connected healthcare services where ROI can be quickly realized.
Interoperability will remain a major challenge for healthcare organizations, but the increasing application of the HL7 FHIR standard by vendors and users will begin to address some of the gaps and produce substantial progress in improving information access and sharing.
Interoperability challenges will continue in the coming year, but HL7 FHIR interfaces will gain traction and will yield improvements in information access and exchange as more organizations adopt them.
9. Teleheath Services
Telehealth services will continue to grow, with a significant expansion of remote patient monitoring applications to address increases in patient populations with chronic conditions, leveraging digital health technologies to enhance care and manage costs.
As consumers place greater emphasis on convenience and cost savings, telehealth services will expand and begin to supplant a greater proportion of primary care services and alternatives such as urgent care clinics.
10. Price Transparency
Price transparency for healthcare services and procedures will become a greater priority for legislators and regulators, with an increased focus on the issue of surprise billing.
Although the perennial challenge of rising healthcare costs will continue unabated, pressure will build on providers to be more open about their charges and billing practices, with some legislative and regulatory action anticipated on price transparency and surprise billing practices.
Many of these trends are interrelated and in combination will produce other effects, including new product and opportunities such as AI-enabled mobile apps, virtual assistants and cloud services. It's clear that healthcare organizations will continue to invest in technologies that help "meet the patient where they are" and solutions that provide productivity enhancements across the care continuum. Patients will continue to drive solutions with more convenient methods for accessing and sharing their health data.
We're looking forward to 2020 and all it holds - for us, our customers and the future of healthcare. We wish everyone the best in the New Year!
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