Six healthcare trends expected in 2018

Like last year, 2018 is expected to bring about further uncertainty and risk for America’s healthcare industry. Issues like the healthcare act, tax reform, cybersecurity, and a marked increase in opioid deaths will shape the future of the healthcare sector

These problems will also alter the focus of industry leaders, insurers, and other stakeholders. Some of the top trends to take note of this year are explained below.

  1. Healthcare Reform

Although the Republican Party can no longer scrap the Affordable Care Act (ACA) through a single piece of legislation, a more scattered approach to continue their pursuit of health reform can be expected.

Along with efforts to decrease and limit federal Medicaid spending, increasing access to health insurance at lower premiums will be a priority. Attempts to relax consumer protections for ACA, temper employer and individual mandates, and rescind ACA taxes and fees are likely to continue in a disconnected manner.

  1. Tax Reform

Reductions to corporate tax rates and a move toward territorial systems will force health organizations to build new strategies for their business models and supply chains.

Cross-sector collaboration will become critical for healthcare industry stakeholders to adequately respond to patient needs. Investments will also switch focus. This year, increasing the uptake of Medicare Advantage, planning for healthcare reform, protecting IT systems, and improving health outcomes for patients based on the entire patient experience will be key. Stakeholders are expected to change their behaviors to adapt to these changes.

Efficiencies that improve performance and mitigate risks will be realized in three key areas: The first will be utilizing AI to streamline decision making and administrative tasks. Requiring pharmacy benefit managers and wholesalers to prove their value and increasing the use of real-world evidence to reduce clinical costs and bring new drugs to market more quickly will be an additional two points of focus.

  1. Cybersecurity for the IoMT

While the use of AI and the Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) are being used more and more often to help people and collect valuable data for analysis of disease, concerns over cybersecurity breaches heightens.

In 2017, a Department of Health and Human Services report to Congress stated that digital security within the healthcare sector was in ‘critical condition’. Cyberattacks have wreaked havoc in small hospitals and biopharma companies alike. In fact, 75% of the healthcare industry was infected with malware last year.

It is against this backdrop that healthcare providers of all kinds must take quick and decisive action to secure records, maintain privacy of patients, and ensure their IoMT networks are protected.

  1. AI Will Expedite Healthcare Processes and Systems

Further use of AI will allow healthcare workers to spend more time with patients and less on bureaucratic and administrative tasks. AI will streamline administrative tasks such as screening drug candidates, financial processes, and more.

Big data and machine learning (ML) networked AI systems will help doctors give more accurate diagnoses. It will also find effective treatments for a wider range of diseases faster, decreasing the occurrence of medical negligence cases.

  1. The Opioid Crisis

America’s opioid crisis has reached epidemic levels, driven by prescription opioids, heroin, and the synthetic opioid, fentanyl. Opioid-related drug overdoses accounted for 64,0000 deaths in 2016 and are expected to claim at least another 52,000 lives this year.

The crisis is far too big to be solved by one player. The government and pharmaceutical industry must work together with prescribers and payers to stem the flow of deaths. This can be done through improving access to treatment, understanding the epidemic, and employing better practices for pain management.

  1. Patient Experiences and Social Determinants

As the healthcare industry shifts to paying for value rather than volume, patient information will be harnessed to begin tailoring the way healthcare providers interact with consumers.

To improve health outcomes and save money, the ‘borders’ of healthcare will begin to expand beyond hospital walls. Soon, they will encompass a patient’s full profile and provide holistic solutions that go beyond a single specific health issue.

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