The healthcare industry experienced many changes this year and is expected to undergo more developments in the coming year. Below is a list of trends and predictions that experts say we can look forward to in 2015.
Rise of Healthcare Costs
In an interview for an article on Forbes.com, benefits consultant, Aon Hewitt, said that “Health care costs may rise up to 60% or more if no plan selection or behavior changes are made to manage these costs”. Some reasons said to have affected this include the aging of the baby boomer generation, childhood obesity and R&D investment.
Healthcare reform is also one of the causes for the rise of healthcare costs. Besmith.com shared some results from the American Hospital Association 2015 Environmental Scan. The article stated that readiness activities done by providers to comply with the reforms have diverted their time and resources. This affects the affordability of healthcare services in the US.
Defined Benefit to Defined Contribution Plans
Despite rising costs, Hewitt also predicts that only few employers will depart from healthcare benefits because the cost of penalties and tax incentives will discourage them from doing so. However, he sees employers moving away from the typical comprehensive packages and instead choosing a defined contribution plan that offers a flat-dollar amount allocation per employee. With this amount, employees can then take the initiative of finding and purchasing a suitable insurance package for themselves.
Retiree Medical Benefits to Cease
In the same Forbes.com article, Hewitt predicts that company sponsored retiree medical benefits are “going by way of the dinosaur”. Rising healthcare costs will make these benefits unaffordable to most employers. He says that only those retiree medical benefits that have been “collectively bargained or grandfathered in” will continue to exist.
Fard Johnmar’s and Rohit Bhargava’s new book, ePatient 2015: 15 Surprising Trends Changing Healthcare, looks at how technology has developed the concept of the ePatient. In an article on HitConsultant.net, Johnmar says that now is the perfect time to make sense of the changes in the industry and that they can be explained by the three main themes in the book.
One of the themes is Health Hyper-efficiency. It highlights the way health information collection and consumption are changing through the use of electronic health records, clinical documentation tools, and telemedicine devices. Because of this, trends and issues such as Empathetic Interfaces, Unhealthy Surveillance and Predictive Psychohistory have developed.
Personalized Health Movement
The second theme from the book highlights the trends that have developed out of personalized healthcare. The Over-Quantified Self is one trend wherein patients become frustrated and confused with the various wearable health devices and applications at their disposal. The Digital Divide, which focuses on the barriers involved with technology and socioeconomic disparities, is also a trend that has to be addressed.
Digital Peer-to-Peer Healthcare
Technology has enabled patients to become more empowered through the use of the Web, mobile and social media, giving rise to Care Hacking. The use of technology aids patients and caregivers in their search for the best providers, treatment options as well as for support and social interaction.
Johnmar states in the article that “This trend actually demonstrates the progression of the patient-doctor relationship made possible thanks to patients using the Web to improve their ability to understand their care, talk with their doctors, and get faster and more affordable care. While there is still debate on whether the Internet is more helpful than harmful when it comes to healthcare, the evidence that it’s empowering patients to be more proactive about their health is very encouraging”.
Developments in healthcare reforms and in technology are two of the major contributors to the changes in the industry. Healthcare institutions can definitely expect the landscape to continuously evolve as new laws take place, technology becomes more advanced and patients get more involved.
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