Top 5 Healthcare Trends for 2017
2016 has been what can best be described for many of us—unpredictable. We can, however, rely on trends to give us insight into the elements of our lives we can plan for. The keen business man or woman, physician or COO, can prepare ahead by analyzing the forces that be, influencing market trends, preferences and expectations for managers, staff and customers.
The healthcare industry is no exception when it comes to sensitivity to market trends amid the climate of increased competition, regulations and administrative headaches. Looking forward, we've put together the top 5 healthcare trends to better prepare your decision making for the year ahead. The following trends are from PWC research:
1. An ageing population and growing middle class are shifting healthcare needs and responses.
According to the United Nations, the world’s population is expected to increase by one billion people by 2025. Of that billion, 300 million will be people aged 65 or older, as life expectancy around the globe continues to rise. Long-term care and chronic disease management services will be in higher demand for this rapidly growing senior population. Advances in mHealth and population health technologies will need to increase to meet this growing demand.
2. Costly chronic care needs are growing and exerting considerable demand on health systems.
According to the World Health Organization, chronic disease prevalence is expected to rise by 57% by the year 2020. Emerging markets will be hardest hit, as population growth is anticipated be most significant in developing nations. Increased demand on healthcare systems due to chronic disease has become a major concern.
New delivery models are emerging to address growing chronic care demands. Technology has a key role to play. The healthcare industry will need to focus on interoperability and flexibility in patient-centered care. With more members in the population in need of chronic care management, these individuals will need flexible ways to manage their care in their own time. Transferring some of the responsibility off of the industry, onto the shoulders of the individual (regarding their personal care management), will provide transparency, autonomy and boost care outcomes. People will be engaged with their health.
3. Facing healthcare funding challenges and a skilled labour shortage.
Governments as well as private practices and public institutions are facing funding, resource and staffing problems (not to mention doctors are continuing to experience burnout at alarming rates). New business models that focus on collaboration and transparency are being built to combat these factors. Public-private partnerships, for example, offer the benefits of long-term cost savings and the achievement of clear quality benchmarks.
Technology also has the potential to create sustainable positive change. By integrating technology, health systems can achieve greater value in clinical services, more patient adherence and better outcomes; however, for technology to be effective at offsetting the human resource shortage, it has to be easy for busy professionals to use and produce reliable results.
4. Consumer skepticism is fuelling a rise in DIY and non-traditional care services.
Consumers are demonstrating a lack of trust in traditional health systems. They are increasingly willing to entrust their health services to non-health sectors, and the availability of technology is giving them the tools to do so. While technology (as mentioned previously) can be a positive driver of change and innovation, the technology must be credible, relevant and of quality standard enough to be relied upon for healthcare management. Trust is key in meeting this challenge.
This increased competition and emphasis on consumer trust, however, is allowing consumers to focus on care outcomes and demand quality. Governments and traditionally slow-moving healthcare organizations, are now pressured into providing high-quality services (and technology options) to meet consumer demands. This idea of meeting consumer demands has previously not been associated with the healthcare industry.
5. More demanding and discerning consumers are opening doors for new entrants in healthcare provision.
Similarly to skepticism fueling a rise in "shopping around" for consumers in the healthcare industry, these consumers are becoming more informed. The age of the savvy consumer is in parallel with the access of open information we find through the world wide web. As a result, individuals' preferences are to have access to all information in an easy, informative manner.
To meet this demand, we will see an increasing focus on interconnectivity. The era of patient-centric health systems is emerging. We are seeing a general shift away from fragmented care to integrated models: organisations, communities and social care providers coordinating their services, with patients as active partners in their health across the continuum. This is an important concept that organizations and providers must plan for by creating sustainable business models and integrating technologies that are conducive interconnectivity.
2017 will be the era of the patient-consumer. The healthcare industry must take notes from emerging transformative business models, technologies and innovations that have already disrupted other industries. The newspaper industry was disrupted by digital media, the rental car industry by cars on demand and even traditional payment methods can be done with the touch of a thumbprint. Consumers do not identify themselves as patients; rather, they are people operating within the ecosystems of their lives. We must treat people as people, consumers and consumers, and treat their experiences as part of a system—rather than a few lines on a chart.