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Top Predictions in Health Care for 2018

January 25, 2018

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Over the course of the past decade, a lot has changed in health care – but what does the future hold?  

2018 looks promising; perhaps we’ll see space-aged advancements that evoke new behaviors, or maybe 2018 will be a year of breaches and crackdowns. With the new year upon us, we’ve done some digging, and broken down what we think the top 6 predictions in health care are for 2018 (in no particular order):

1. Consumerization drives digital health technology          

Consumers are taking control of their health, using smartphones and devices to integrate health into their everyday lives (i.e. fitness trackers, virtual care, nutrition applications). According to Health IT Outcomes, telehealth will continue to work towards making care more convenient and accessible to patients.

2. Vertical integration from non-health tech is on the rise

As traditional stakeholders struggle to keep up with the demands of impatient consumers, health care is moving towards vertical integration claims MobiHealthNews. Companies like Amazon and CVS currently dominate this space as they know how to interact with consumers in a way health care providers don’t.

“For CVS, I don’t want to be overdramatic but it may be a way that they’re thinking they can cut the provider out of the negotiation, set up direct health plan relationships with plan sponsors through Aetna where they can directly manage chronic illness management for cohorts of individuals and not even involve their doctor, except maybe to send their doctor an update or something like that,” Partners Healthcare VP of Connected Health Dr. Joseph Kvedar told MobiHealthNews.

3. AI dominates health care news    

PwC claims that we can expect to see an increase in quality and a decrease in cost for image-based diagnostics in particular. In addition, the use of virtual, proactive care will increase in the traditional health care and patient-centric spaces due to predictive algorithms that alert care providers. However, there will be significant regulatory challenges in regards to approvals for diagnostic tools. The trade-offs between improved outcomes, privacy, and transparency by algorithms may cause problems for practitioners and regulators in the future. In an article by MobiHealthNews, Topol identified AI as the biggest upcoming technology trend in health care: “The whole idea that many of the things in medicine can be improved with more use of machines and deep learning algorithms is quite exciting,” he said, citing the AliveCor KardiaBand as a great example of AI making a real difference in health care.

4. Virtual health care overcomes the industry’s largest cost drivers

According to the National Academy of Sciences, chronic conditions and cases consume approximately 84% of health care dollars in the U.S. Health IT Outcomes states that virtual healthcare is set to address this issue head-on, enabling new patient-centred care pathways and business models by connecting patients with clinical support from anywhere, anytime, on any device.

5. Internet medical devices become a major security target

Today, internet medical devices play a huge role in health care. They perform the primary day-to-day functions of billing, medical records and more. According to PwC, each device is an easy target for cybercriminals, as some systems lack the security set-up and tools needed to keep information secure.

6. Specialty diseases will become a focus  

Historically, there has been a focus on diseases that affected more people, however, this is said to change in 2018. Forbes claims specialty, chronic diseases will become a focus this year, which is good news for sufferers although, it’s likely these medications will be expensive due to such little competition in this space.  

At Think Research, we develop evidenced-based tools that empower clinicians to provide the best possible care. We’re constantly monitoring the latest tech-trends, gaining clinical input from expert panels and associations, and participating in industry conferences, but even we can’t predict the future with perfect certainty.

What do you think is in store for 2018? How should our product roadmap respond to these trends? We’d love to hear what you see in your crystal ball.