“The current system is broken. We need to move towards an era of disease prevention and personalized medicine,” writes Dr. Emmanuel Fombu in his book The Future of Healthcare: Humans and Machines Partnering for Better Outcomes. He’s not alone in this assessment.
With healthcare expenditures continuing to rise in recent years, providers across the industry recognize the need to develop new procedures that both reduce medical costs and improve health outcomes. By taking a closer look at these changes and their relationship to the current healthcare landscape, we’ve identified several trends that could positively impact your organization—and your patients—in 2019.
1. Connecting Value to Health Outcomes
A decade ago, the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH) introduced programs that incentivized payments to Medicare and Medicaid healthcare providers for the ‘meaningful use’ of electronic health record (EHR) technology. Since then, value-based care has gained traction—and not just in the United States.
According to an analysis by Forbes, 2019 will see a decrease in economic models and a shift toward the aforementioned value- or outcome-based care concepts. More specifically, they estimate that up to 15 percent of global healthcare spending will be tied to VBC by the end of the year. The trend is primarily fueled by countries that spend 10 percent or more of their GDP on healthcare, including the U.S., Netherlands, Sweden, France, Germany, Canada and Japan.
Wresting control of costs is a powerful motivator for private payers, too. Forbes says “To ensure future growth globally a number of insurance companies are already providing data and digital-driven healthcare services to their policyholders to personalize the experience and reduce the cost from potential claims.” Their analysts anticipate that 5 to 10 percent of insurance plans will utilize lifestyle and health data-driven interactive policies by the end of 2019.
Not surprisingly, the digitization of healthcare also earns a spot of its own on this trends list.
2. Reinventing Healthcare With Digital Technologies
Will the digital health tool ‘hype cycle’ lose momentum in 2019 or hit its stride? Recent evidence suggests the latter.
According to Forbes, “Increasing cost burdens from chronic health conditions and aging populations will be the chief driver for digital health solutions such as RPM devices, telehealth platforms, PERS, and mHealth applications.” As reimbursement policies encompass more digital health applications, they will further drive the development of additional tools that address wellness and nutrition, behavioral health, prescription management and more.
In its healthcare predictions for 2019, Forrester says that Apple, Google, Amazon, and other tech giants’ recent forays into healthcare also demonstrate technology’s ability to reimagine healthcare in positive ways.
“New uses for existing and emerging technologies will give consumers and providers more options for delivering care. Digital technology will be packaged with an ROI—savvy healthcare organizations are moving beyond the hype of digital technologies and focusing on measurable outcomes,” writes Forrester Senior Analyst Arielle Trzcinski.
Today’s consumers are always connected. As a former healthcare executive turned tech entrepreneur, Dr. Fombu points out in The Future of Healthcare that “It takes the average American four years of doctors' visits to spend as much time with their physician as they spend with their phone in a single day.”
So why not take advantage of patients’ digital engagement in ways that yield positive health outcomes?
It's already happening. Rock Health, a venture fund dedicated to digital health, saw the evidence in its fourth annual consumer survey on digital health adoption. Among 4,000 respondents, 89 percent said they use at least one digital health tool.
- 80 percent go online to access health information
- 64 percent check online provider reviews
- 28 percent use mobile tracking apps
- 33 percent use wearables
The biggest gain—a 15 percent increase over the 2017 results—was for live video and telemedicine. Around 34 percent of respondents now use these services.
3. Using Data to Improve Patient Experiences
Thanks to the increasing demand for telemedicine, Forrester notes that “55 percent of HCOs are making a new investment or increasing investment in virtual care technologies.” However, there’s more to meeting consumer expectations than offering ‘virtual visits.’
Healthcare organizations must continue to follow retailers’ lead if they want to reduce costs and achieve better health outcomes.
“In the age of the customer, patients seek personalized and convenient care. They will not tolerate an aggravating, time-consuming experience when options that fit their needs are just a click away,” writes Forrester’s Trzcinski. Healthcare providers need to identify these pain points and tailor treatment in ways that both engage patients and improve their overall experience.
Data plays an important role here. As healthcare organizations continue to take advantage of predictive analytics, machine learning and other forms of artificial intelligence, they are seeing opportunities to utilize these robust data sources to better understand patient experiences across the entire care continuum. In turn, they can use this information to enhance the effectiveness of care and improve health outcomes.
AI isn’t the only way healthcare organizations can uncover actionable insights about their patients, though. Data on how consumers approach healthcare—more specifically, their beliefs and motivations regarding treatment—can also help providers boost engagement. This method is known as psychographic segmentation, and it can provide insight into what makes consumers tick.
Consumers fall into five distinct psychographic segments within c2b solutions’ proprietary model: Self Achievers, Balance Seekers, Priority Jugglers, Direction Takers or Willful Endurers. Each of these groups has different priorities and approaches when it comes to their health. Self Achievers and Balance Seekers, for example, are proactive whereas Direction Takers and Willful Endurers are reactive. Priority Jugglers fall somewhere in the middle.
Understanding what motivates each patient gives healthcare providers a framework through which they can model their products and services. It also helps them align health and wellness communications or chronic health care plans to the attitudes and expectations of individual patients.
Rather than a one-size-fits-all approach based on demographic factors or a shared diagnosis, healthcare providers can use psychographic segmentation to better engage customers and enhance their offerings.
For instance, a 2018 c2b Consumer Diagnostic found that Balance Seekers prefer to get immunization reminders 30 days before it’s due while Direction Takers prefer to get reminders within the week it’s due. With this information in mind, it wouldn’t make sense to send a reminder two weeks out because you wouldn’t appeal to either of their preferences. You also wouldn’t want to do a monthly reminder to everyone because you would alienate Direction Takers. By adjusting reminders based on psychographics, you could effectively engage with all of your patients.
By understanding trends in the current healthcare landscape, providers can make more informed decisions that not only reduce costs but also improve their patients’ quality of life. To learn more about psychographic segmentation and how you can improve health outcomes in 2019, download our whitepaper.