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The medical field is undergoing unprecedented transformation driven by technology, payer reform, scientific advancements and consumer demands.

The core work of practitioners must change, both in response to and in anticipation of emerging trends.

In this article, we will discuss some of the changes that are transforming the medical field.

Changing Usage Patterns

(Credit: National Cancer Institute)

Procedures and services that were previously only provided in acute care hospitals are now being provided in outpatient, community, virtual, and home settings.

This trend is driven by the need to control costs, value-based reimbursement changes, and technological advancements.

Some hospitals invest in integrated service networks that extend far beyond their locality.

As value-based care becomes the norm, health care providers, medical educationand the government is focusing more on prevention and on the social determinants of health.

Advanced science of medicine

check blood pressure
(Credit: Hush Naidoo Jade Photography)

With advances in health science and the reduction in the cost of technology, the discovery of biomarkers and biological pathways is accelerating.

The influence of genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, microbiomics and benchmarking on therapies and disease mechanisms improves disease susceptibility predictions, early detection and tailored therapies.

Healthcare providers are looking for new translational models to better integrate research with clinical care.

Technology

healthcare technology
(Credit: Lee Campbell on Unsplash)

Today’s healthcare industry is not what it was years ago. This is due to technology and many other innovative digital solutions that are introduced every day.

Many technological solutions have been proposed for several problems facing the world of medicine. And these solutions have dramatically changed and improved the medical industry.

Technology drives efficiency and enables transformation. It also contributes to changing service models, market dynamics and consumer engagement.

Healthcare delivery models and tools follow the development and convergence of the Internet. It also ensures the security and privacy of digital devices, wearable technologies, AI and social networks.

big data

There has been rapid adoption of the technology by consumers and businesses. This created an ever-increasing flood of interaction and transaction data.

Artificial intelligence and predictive models allow users to understand large volumes of data from many sources in ways that generate actionable insights.

Medical schools teach students how to use data to improve health and make a difference for their patients.

New contest

Operation
(Credit: Piron Guillaume)

Previously, competition in healthcare was focused on local providers. Today’s healthcare entities face new competition on many fronts.

Health systems are entering national markets through mergers, acquisitions and partnerships. Competition for consumers can emerge from startups to stand-alone urgent care to retail chains.

Venture capital investments are pouring into the healthcare market to fund new entrants. They focus on the cost-effective aspects of healthcare. They provide consumers with convenience, integrated technology, ease of use and a perfect fit with their daily routine.

New players are offering highly designed, consumer-focused services that enhance the healthcare experience.

Partners and collaborators

Health partnerships
(Credit: Sebastian Herrmann on Unsplash)

Health care is both labor intensive and capital intensive. Healthcare organizations are exploring all possible avenues to reduce operating costs.

Organizations leverage a combination of creative partnerships to be able to compete in value-based environments. This includes mergers, acquisitions, clinical integration efforts and new collaboration models.

The demand for cost-effective solutions that consistently show a strong return on investment is growing. This may include divesting unprofitable business lines. These services can be performed through outsourcing or partnerships.

Many health care providers are now working with social services and local government agencies toward a common goal.

Each partner exercises its core competency in coordination with other partners to achieve greater impact.

Consumerism and retail

Operating table in the medical field
(Credit: Marcel Scholte on Unsplash)

The “retailisation” of healthcare is already well underway due to growing consumer expectations. Consumers are constantly able to determine how their healthcare budget is being spent.

Quality expectations from experience with other industries influence their expectations.

Pricing transparency and availability anytime, anywhere are hallmarks of successful non-health service offerings.

Consumers now expect this from health care. The penetration of traditional retail vendors such as Walmart, CVS Health and Walgreens in healthcare delivery has contributed to this trend. Yet other, quieter forces are also shaping retail healthcare models.

The move towards price transparency linked to insurance exchanges is one such force. Another is telehealth models, which offer consumers the choice of accessing a doctor over the phone or via video chat.

Consumers will expect advanced and personalized care options. This will happen as retailers continue to infiltrate the industry.

These will be done through various technology services. These services may not be connected to their doctors (or health system).

Engagement and behavior change

Sterile environment, laboratory tests in the medical field
(Credit: CDC)

General societal trends can influence consumer expectations and service delivery, trends such as:

  • Cultural Diversification
  • Globalization
  • The aging of baby boomers
  • Millennials

The integration of healthcare, retail, lifestyle and community services has become the norm. Healthcare organizations are moving towards more holistic models that engage consumers in personalized ways.

Different generations have different expectations when it comes to interacting with health care. For example, traditional approaches may not resonate with millennials. Engagement is the foundation of population health management.

Strategies include:

  • 24/7 access models
  • Technology-based health care coordination
  • Content management adapted to personalization
  • business intelligence
  • Behavioral economics
  • Social media that leverages peer influence.

These approaches will improve health by modifying behavior and establishing new routines.

Conclusion

The World Health Organization (WHO) has defined health as more than “the absence of disease”.

The way health care providers help patients achieve this definition is now more varied and complex. This can be achieved with significant financial incentives to improve population health outcomes.

In recent years, medical breakthroughs have reduced or eliminated many acute illnesses. This has helped to prolong human life.

One thing is sure; there will be more progress in medical technology and in the whole system. It makes the future of healthcare bright.

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