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Health care trends in 2023

Healthcare Trends in 2023: What's New in the Industry

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When looking at trends in health care, the impact of the global pandemic can’t be overstated. There were already major changes underway in the field before COVID-19, but the sudden worldwide health emergency acted as a catalyst to speed up innovation and adoption. We live in a different health care environment now, with patients expecting the latest technological innovations and the convenience and flexibility of digital health care.1

Two primary health care trends for 2023, as seen on the frontlines of patient care by the nation’s nurses, are the increase of virtual care and patient-wearable medical devices.1 Other health care industry trends for 2023 include personalized and precision medicine, artificial intelligence (AI) and blockchain, patient engagement, value-based care and population health management.2,3,4,5,6

Why is it important to understand health care trends? The direction that the health care industry is moving toward, which includes changes in the way things are done and disruptive new technologies, helps health care professionals to understand patients’ needs and how an organization’s business model can be updated to meet them. In addition to improving the patient experience, it is estimated that the health care sector could save $300 billion through digital transformation.7

In this article, we unpack what these important new trends and emerging technologies mean for patient care, health outcomes and the future of healthcare.

Healthcare Industry Trends for 2023

If you are interested in furthering your career in health care, it is essential that you have a good understanding of where the health care industry will be in the foreseeable future. Advances in technology and lessons learned from the pandemic are the key drivers of these trends.

Digital Healthcare

The field of digital healthcare, known also as digital health, is extremely broad. It comprises health information technology, wearable devices, mobile health (mHealth), personalized medicine, telehealth and telemedicine.8 Real-world examples of digital health include the mobile medical software applications that doctors use to support clinical decisions and consumer wearable devices like health monitors, fitness trackers, blood pressure monitors and biosensors.8,9 Digital health also includes electronic health records (EHRs) and electronic medical records (EMRs), patient portals, health and wellness behavior modification tools, imaging systems, AI systems and robotics.10,11

Benefits: Digital tools and platforms help health care providers access a large amount of patient data for a more complete picture, while patients have more control over and insights into their health. With this technology, providers can seek to improve health care access and address health disparities, reduce inefficiencies and lower costs, improve the quality of care and outcomes through personalized health care, and create a better experience for both the patient and the provider.11 Consumers can use digital health technology to make informed health care decisions and have more options for prevention, early diagnosis and management of disease and chronic conditions, beyond the usual healthcare settings. They can also use health tech to track their health and wellness activities.8 The goal of digital health is to improve overall population health.11

Challenges: There are several challenges in the widespread adoption of digital health technologies. Interoperability is one issue, given the sheer volume of patient data being collected on so many different systems. Other challenges include digital literacy in patients trying to understand the information, as well as significant security and privacy concerns. When it comes to AI and medical robots used during surgical procedures, there are additional concerns related to technology and ethics.10,1

Top Trends in Digital Health: There is a particular focus on the patient experience and interactions, telehealth, interoperability of EMRs, and AI and machine learning (ML) in leveraging large data sets to determine organizational needs and solutions, enhance patient care and more. Other top trends include the importance of cybersecurity, system modernization, providing health care at home through technology and boosting operational efficiencies.12

Precision Medicine (Personalized Medicine)

Precision medicine, also referred to as personalized medicine, combines genomics, data analytics and population health to determine a person’s likelihood of developing a particular disease and create a tailored treatment plan.5 Population health—the health outcomes of a group of people—takes into account the quality of health care, individual behavior, physical environment, social environment and genetics.13 Doctors use this information to help determine the most effective therapy and medication for their condition, as well as optimal regimens and dosages. The Human Genome Project, spearheaded by the National Human Genome Research Institute, gathers the genomic data that advances this technology.14

Precision medicine is currently used in diagnosing and treating breast cancer, melanoma, cardiovascular disease and neurological diseases like Alzheimer’s.15,5 Additionally, genome studies have uncovered “disease signatures” for prostate cancer, heart disorders, Parkinson’s disease, type 2 diabetes, Crohn’s disease and age-related macular degeneration. Every few months, more gene variants that indicate disease are discovered.16 Physicians use personalized medicine to expand how they traditionally understand and treat disease. This technology can potentially change how the medical community and patients identify and manage health issues, as it impacts both patient care and clinical research.15

Precision Medicine versus Personalized Medicine – There can be some confusion with these terms, though they both refer to targeted therapies based on a person’s genetics, environment and lifestyle. Recently, the term “precision medicine” has gained preference, since “personalized medicine” is sometimes misinterpreted to mean custom treatments for each individual, which isn’t the case.17

Benefits: A person’s genetic profile can be used to predict their susceptibility to certain diseases and which types of medical treatment would be safe and effective. With such precise tools, providers can choose custom treatments and targeted therapies for each patient, possibly minimizing side effects and ensuring a more positive outcome. This can also serve to greatly limit trial and error, which helps to reduce healthcare costs.15

Challenges: In addition to the need to standardize patient data collection from a wide array of sources, and to have databases that can store enormous amounts of data, precision medicine raises social, ethical and legal questions. Confidentiality and patient privacy are of primary importance.18,19 There is also the question of disease discovery and how that can be handled in an ethical way, including a family’s right to know the results of genetic testing, and the question of false positives.19 Legal issues center around intellectual property rights, with the argument that allowing scientists to patent DNA sequences may slow down research and development. Also, current regulatory frameworks need to be reworked to address precision medicine.19

Top trends in precision medicine: One of the most important trends in the field of precision/personalized medicine is technology integration and automation. Multiple platforms are being integrated for personalized medicine. Specifically, AI and machine learning (ML) tools are being used to help extract data from various health applications and sources and then subsegment the population for more effective analysis to develop personalized treatments.20

AI in Healthcare

Artificial intelligence (AI) in healthcare uses machine learning (ML) and other cognitive technologies like natural language processing (NLP), algorithms and robotic process automation to analyze and make decisions based on medical data, often to predict a health outcome.21,22 AI technology can be used to alleviate health care challenges like chronic illness, hospital readmissions and workforce shortages.23 AI can also be used to analyze treatment effectiveness, acute versus chronic episodic care forecasting, intelligent medicine dispensing, personalized treatment, medical imaging, health tracking and analytics, predicting and detecting disease, surgical robots, accelerated drug development, clinical documentation, claims processing and much more.24,25

Benefits: There are many benefits of AI in health care, including better-informed patient care, fewer errors, reduced costs and improved patient-doctor engagement.25

Challenges: The main challenges of AI adoption in health care are much the same as for other technologies that use sensitive patient data and advanced computing—the training of health care professionals and patients, and both ethical and legal issues when it comes to data sharing. Health care organizations must be able to navigate change strategically and put AI into daily practice.26

Top trends in health care AI: According to HealthTech Magazine, key trends in health care AI in the next few years include natural language processing (NLP) and conversational AI for virtual assistants that can check symptoms and perform medical triage, automatic scheduling and the integration of EHRs, wearables and omics (genomics, metabolomics and transcriptomics). They also foresee tightened government regulation of AI as well as targeted diagnostics and personalized care.23

Blockchain in health care

The first popularized use of blockchain systems was for cryptocurrencies. Its decentralization and distributed ledger technology (DLT) allow for greater transparency and security for distributing data.27 One of the most important uses of blockchain technology in health care is to secure patient data. It protects patients’ identities and information and allows for fast transfers to reduce the length of time that this data is vulnerable to attack.28 Blockchain can be used to speed up access to patient records, streamline medical supply chain management, and provide security and fast access to data for genome sequencing.28,29

Benefits: With automation through smart contracts and no middlemen required in data transfer, a blockchain system is more efficient and cost-effective.29

Challenges: There is some hesitancy in blockchain adoption in the health care industry due to its “newness” and the fear of possible lawsuits. Some organizations worry that the system won’t be able to scale to their requirements, and there are still some concerns about the security of health care applications.29

Top trends in blockchain technology: Areas in healthcare where blockchain usage is expected to grow in the near future include drug discovery and clinical trial data management, electronic health record management, drug authenticity and the identification of counterfeits, vaccine distribution and drug supply chain management.30

Telehealth

Telehealth, also known as telemedicine, allows patients to receive evaluations, diagnoses and treatment from their doctors without having to visit a brick-and-mortar office.31 They can also communicate with their health care providers by phone or through a video chat application, and send and receive messages using a secure patient portal. Telehealth includes remote health monitoring at home, so providers can monitor patients without having to see them in person. In-home devices gather vital information which then gets sent to the health care facility. Many types of care can be provided through telehealth, such as prescription management, mental health care, post-surgical follow-up, lab test results, physical and occupational therapy, and remote monitoring of chronic conditions like high blood pressure and diabetes.32 The COVID-19 pandemic made telehealth a necessity, and the public now expects to have this option.33

Benefits: The most important benefit of telehealth is the ability for a patient who is sick or unable to travel to a healthcare facility to receive care. Providers can use telehealth to treat COVID-19 and other infectious diseases remotely.33

Challenges: Telehealth has its limitations, such as overuse of medical care or gaps in care, unnecessary care or inappropriate drug use. The lack of a physical examination may affect the patient’s diagnosis. Some people may have technological challenges when trying to use an online messaging system.33

Top trends in telehealth: Telemedicine trends for 2023 include EHR-embedded telecare, mHealth, a digital-first approach, 5G quality and speed, AI, Internet of Medical Things (IoMT), AR and VR (augmented reality and virtual reality), and cloud storage and data sharing. mHealth (mobile health) includes activity trackers, mobile phone applications and health information technology.31

Value-Based Care

With a value-based reimbursement model, health care providers are given the incentive to focus on delivering quality services to their patients, rather than the quantity of services provided. They are compensated based on their patients’ health outcomes. Doctors are rewarded for improving patient health, reducing the incidence and effects of chronic disease and creating a healthier population through evidence-based treatments. This is a departure from the traditional fee-for-service model, which pays physicians for the number of services they provide.34

Benefits: Value-based health care benefits everyone from patients and providers to suppliers, payers and society. The patient experiences better health outcomes and lower costs. Providers see enhanced patient satisfaction and greater efficiency. Payers can control costs and reduce risks. For suppliers, prices align with health outcomes. And the public enjoys better health and lower healthcare spending.34

Challenges: Barriers to value-based health care include fragmented care delivery, limited internal resources, lack of buy-in, outdated workflows, inaccessible clinical data, lack of system integration and financial risk.35

Top trends in value-based care: Experts predict that the health care industry will continue to move toward value-based service delivery as providers, payers and government-run programs try to improve patient health outcomes while cutting costs.36

Patient Engagement

Patient engagement is the degree to which the patient is actively involved in their healthcare. The desire for fully motivated patients has led health care organizations to use strategies that help to educate and engage patients, involving them in their own health decisions. For this to occur, the patient must have the necessary knowledge, ability, skills and motivation to manage their health.4

Benefits: It has been shown that active patient engagement leads to improved health and reduced costs.37 When patients are more knowledgeable, they tend to be more engaged in their well-being and the choices they make, which leads to fewer emergency room visits and better care. Patient engagement decreases “no-shows” and increases revenue. When patients collaborate with doctors in decision-making, the patient-doctor relationship is improved and physicians can treat patients more effectively and efficiently.38

Challenges: The greatest challenges to patient engagement are lack of digital access or patient health literacy, or it may be cultural beliefs that prevent them from being proactive. For providers, their health care system may not be designed to support patient engagement. Also, they might not have the training needed or the time to engage their patients.38

Top trends in patient engagement: Technology and the availability of information are leading to a rise in “health care consumerism,” with patients taking a more active role in their own health care and being more selective in their providers. The rise of online reviews and more convenient virtual visits empower patients to become more involved in their health care choices.39

Population Health Management

Population health management (PHM) focuses on a comprehensive approach to improve health outcomes for a group of people—either those who have a certain disease, live in a particular region or share some other type of characteristic. The move toward value-based reimbursement has placed the focus on PHM for accountable care organizations (ACOs), health care providers and insurance providers that are seeking to deliver quality care at a lower cost.40

Benefits: PHM can help health care organizations make evidence-based decisions through data analysis. They can determine how to allocate their resources in various settings to provide cost-effective clinical care. Insights from PHM data give a more comprehensive understanding of chronic diseases, including the risks, incidence and prevalence, as well as future trends. This allows for more proactive treatment and prevention.40

Challenges: A labor shortage in the health care industry, especially the nursing shortage, is one of the biggest barriers of population health management. A single public health strategy won’t be appropriate for all health organizations, so any program must be scaled to fit unique requirements. A common requirement now will be to attain improved health outcomes with limited resources.41

Top trends in population health management: Digital health tools will help automate and streamline healthcare administrative tasks, assisting in population health management. Targeted campaigns will be used for better patient engagement and outreach.41

Prepare Yourself for the Future of Healthcare

Health care industry trends like the explosion of digital health care and AI help to engage and support patients, collect patient data and streamline operations for improved patient care. With the promise of improved patient care powered by technological innovations, data-driven insights and genetic research into the origins of disease, it is an exciting time to be a health care professional. The Oklahoma City University Kramer School of Nursing online nursing degree programs will give you the knowledge, skills and expertise you need to be a leader in tomorrow’s healthcare industry. Our online RN-Bachelor of Science in Nursing (RN-BSN) and online Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) are designed for working professionals who want to update their skills to be competitive for leadership roles in nursing management and patient care.

For more information about our online nursing programs, speak to an Admissions Advisor.

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