• Ashley Poynter

4 healthcare trends to keep an eye on in 2020 and beyond


Technology plays a major role in the transformation of various industries, and healthcare is no exception. Thanks to technology, the healthcare industry will continue to experience innovation and growth across the globe. With the Healthcare IT Market expected to grow to $390.7 billion by 2024, there’s no doubt that great things are on the horizon.


The healthcare industry is complex, including an ecosystem of providers, insurers, patients, and more. Technology often finds ways to streamline relationships between the parties within that ecosystem, making healthcare more affordable and accessible. Decent is excited to be a part of the change within that ecosystem, and we’re also interested in exploring what lies on the horizon for 2020. Let’s take a look at some trends that could bring about exciting and massive change to the industry.


1. Internet of Things (IoT)

IoT and IoT-enabled devices have enabled efficient and fast healthcare. One of the ways this happens is through the ability to track real-time location, making it easier to monitor a healthcare environment. Medical devices and other apparatus can be tracked via sensors, allowing everything from wheelchairs and scales to defibrillators to be monitored.


Wearables are another IoT-enabled game-changer for healthcare. Wearables allow for the monitoring of a user’s health or vitals (e.g. heart rate, blood pressure, etc.), facilitating enhanced patient data and real-time monitoring. While many wearable devices already exist, the market is expected to hit 240.1 million devices by 2021. Providers can leverage IoT technology to improve patient care through better patient data, analytics, and real-time tracking.


2. Machine Learning

While machine learning (ML) applications for healthcare are just beginning to grow, several models are in production. Since ML improves as algorithms are able to learn from data, the development and planning stages are critical. As ML algorithms are exposed to diagnosis, treatment, image, and procedure data, they will learn and improve.


Several use cases for ML have emerged, including virtual nursing and image analysis. The former involves ML-enabled chatbots that can interact with patients more frequently than their human counterparts. These chatbots can also act as “intelligent gatekeepers” of information exchanged between doctors and patients. ML-powered image analysis in pathology means ML can help radiologists detect subtle changes between scans. This results in improved identification and diagnosis of health issues early on. IBM’s AI-enabled Watson for Oncology can aid physicians in identifying important information within patient medical records and then connect relevant evidence and treatment options.


3. Telehealth

Telehealth continues to gain momentum as access to healthcare remains an issue for many people. A 2018 Accenture survey reveals that the majority (78%) of consumers have an interest in virtual health services. Telehealth and virtual care services have been expanded under Physician Fee Schedule regulation, with 34 states and the District of Columbia requiring private insurers to cover telehealth the same way in-office services would be covered.


Telehealth can improve healthcare for people by providing a simple way to access in-network providers. This is especially important for those who live in rural areas where finding a local doctor that is in-network may be more of a challenge. It also opens up more access to specialists. Again, those who live in small towns may not have the same pool of specialists to choose from, but telehealth can widen access to more specialists without geographic restrictions. Those who have rare conditions or other issues that require the help of a specialist can more easily connect with experts over a secure virtual connection.


Telehealth also facilitates easier scheduling. Not everyone can take several hours away from the workday to visit their primary care doctor. Even getting an in-person appointment could mean waiting several weeks until the doctor’s schedule opens up — a wait that can be even longer for new patients. Telehealth makes it easier to see your doctor and get the health care you need.


4. Direct Primary Care (DPC)

Doctors are in a bind. Increasing requirements of the government, more administrative work regarding record-keeping & data submission, and red-tape headaches make it difficult to spend time with actual patients. Patients can feel this squeeze both financially and in the fact that they spend less time with their doctors than ever. Care has become too expensive and the patient experience is suffering.


Enter the DPC model, which changes the core incentives in healthcare. DPC doctors operate on a flat monthly fee, incentivizing them to keep you healthy as their costs go up when you need more care. This shifts the focus toward providing high-value, keeping your health (and their costs) in check.


Decent is an active participant in the DPC movement because we believe in the importance of the doctor-patient relationship. All of our plans include free primary care, so you get unlimited, extended monthly visits with the same doctor, with no extra charges or hidden fees. No more waiting games, either. Patients can access care via same or next-day appointments, telemedicine (video calls), and 24/7 phone, texting, and email support for your health questions.


Ready to get started for 2020? Get your free quote today!

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