Healthcare Technology Featured Article

January 05, 2023

Healthcare Trends 2023 - Industry Leaders Weigh In




COVID-19 has forever changed the way people approach healthcare, including patients choosing telehealth over in-person visits and avoiding hospitals whenever possible. But even before COVID-19  impacted the environment, changes were underway as large corporations and nimble upstarts identified the many drawbacks of traditional healthcare in the United States and determined that they could improve upon what many consider to be a broken system.

For many years, patients were dependant on family doctors, traveling whatever distance necessary to reach them and navigating long wait times, complex healthcare centers and hospitals and insurance regulations in order to be seen. But as competition for patients has stiffened, physicians have been forced to prioritize customer satisfaction and convenience. This new approach has forced the healthcare industry to examine their locations, their parking availability, and their ability to keep appointments on schedule. All of these factors can have a major impact on patient retention and frequency of visits, which ultimately result in a more profitable and satisfying practice.

In addition to now following a patient-centric model, the healthcare industry is closely monitoring a number of other important trends, which include: reducing the cost of care through proactive care; virtual care; in-home care; value-based care; the use of technology and data in decision-making; long-awaited price transparency demands; the use of new medical technologies; private investments in innovation; and consolidation of patient care.

Those who are at the forefront of these trends are reaping the rewards in a major way; many established players in healthcare are scrambling to acquire companies that challenge the traditional brick-and-mortar model. There has also been an increase in interest in the industry by non-healthcare corporations, like Amazon, who believe they can enter the marketplace and improve upon conditions based on their overall approach to business.

Innovative companies like HealthQuarters, led by Founder and CEO Bhavdeep Singh, have brought high-quality, high-touch healthcare to neighborhood locations. With clinicians, wellness providers, and brands that address long-term and preventative care across a full spectrum of disciplines, patients can now enjoy a convenient, one-stop shop that revolutionizes their healthcare experience. After decades in the healthcare industry, Bhavdeep Singh is taking everything he’s learned about emerging trends and patient retention, and recreating healthcare from the bottom up. 

“When people ask, ‘What's the difference between what is happening in healthcare today vs what happened in the pat?’ I think the biggest difference is that typically in a clinical healthcare environment, when somebody comes in, the first question is what's wrong? We're asking how are you feeling? And although the two questions sound identical -- they are very different and the actions that result from the response to that question are completely different as well,” explained Singh in a recent interview.

With competition like HealthQuarters and other similar platforms, it’s no wonder that established healthcare corporations are scrambling to keep up with the creative new models beating them to market.

Major Healthcare Industry Trends Heading into 2023
 

  1. Patient-Centric Model
     

Physicians now compete with many holistic medical providers, as well as a host of preventative care practices that work with patients to stay healthy, rather than treating sick patients after they’re already in decline. Combined with their move into spaces typically reserved for retail stores, physicians and physician groups are changing the way that they do business by putting patient needs first.

Partly due to the fact that brick-and-mortar retail stores are quickly falling out of favor as online purchases dominate the market, and partly due to the fact that store locations are appealing to healthcare providers, doctor’s offices are popping up in shopping centers across the country. With their visibility and accessibility to high per-capita income population centers, shopping centers make for highly desirable rental locations. Thanks to vacancies caused by slowing sales, the landlords of these shopping centers are now willing to consider healthcare providers as tenants for the first time.

It may seem odd to put a doctor’s office next to a retail store, entertainment complex, or chain restaurant, but ultimately the lack of retail tenants has made healthcare providers into desirable tenants. One thing that landlords must take into account, though, is that higher healthcare rents are based on extensive and expensive build-outs that will likely never make sense to revert back to traditional retail space.

When asked about this, Mr Singh talked about his experience in both industries.  “The ‘retail-ization’ of healthcare started happening many years back and it is now coming through in multiple healthcare delivery platforms.  People no longer just want to be treated, they want it to happen in a warm/comfortable environment and they want to be cared for.”

As a result, there appear to be many benefits of being close to patients, in areas that they’re already visiting for errands, and with ample parking, contribute to a retail setting advancing the patient-centric model.

1. Cost Reductions Through Proactive Care
 

After decades of viewing doctors as a means to fix what is wrong with them, a new wave of proactive care that minimizes, delays, or eliminates future ailments is being adopted by patients and doctors alike. By pursuing a healthy lifestyle from a young age, physicians can be partners in a prosperous life, not inevitable necessities when things go wrong.

Patients are shelling out nearly $400 billion on fitness, nutrition, appearance, sleep, and mindfulness aids each year as they make overall, long-term health a priority. These educated and informed consumers are taking an active role in their health and healthcare, participating in decisions with their providers.

While the total number of perceived visits to the doctor has diminished, so have more expensive treatments and the amount of long-term care that is required.

2. Virtual Care
 

COVID helped to advance the already-growing virtual care trend that includes phone and video calls to replace office visits. It is estimated that 20% of healthcare can be administered through virtual visits, or up to $250 billion in outpatient spending redirected. As technology advances to allow for remote patient monitoring and home-hospital arrangements, this could increase even more.

Virtual care is another extension of the patient-centric model, wherein the inconvenience of office visits are eliminated altogether, saving the patient time, trouble, and money. Profits for medical providers are increased by keeping appointments on schedule and increasing the number of appointments that can be kept in a day; many physical offices and expensive leases can be eliminated as well.

3. In-Home Care
 

While still very much in development, in-home care including home infusions, home-based dialysis, primary home care, and hospital-at-home models are all being expanded at the rate that technology allows for. There are still many advancements needed in order to effectively provide robust in-home care, but the goal is to keep patients as comfortable as possible and to keep the sickest patients out of hospital settings.

Recent acquisitions by CVS, Walgreens, and even Amazon - totaling in the billions - are strong indications that in-home care is a big part of future healthcare plans.

In further conversation with Bhavdeep, he chimed in with the following.  “In-home care is also another new model and as our average age continues to go up, with more and more people leaving the workforce, we will see a massive shift and growth in the ‘at home’ care space.”

4. Value-Based Care
 

For many people, healthcare is still a luxury item that is out of reach. Value-based care providers are capitalizing on a great opportunity to serve a lower-income population that still requires regular doctor’s visits. The key component for making value-based care work financially is incorporating preventative care into a primary care physician’s repertoire. By working to keep patients healthy, profits can increase exponentially for a sector of the population that previously could only afford to see a doctor when they desperately needed to do so.

5. The Use of Technology & Data
 

Although technological advancements in and of themselves are expensive undertakings, over time their value is only increasing. Remotely monitoring patients and delivering that data to physicians in real-time helps to virtualize the entire experience, while increasing monitoring and early identification of problems. Doctors have a more complete picture of patient health, and patients can be contacted quickly and directly about any findings.

6. Price-Transparency
 

For many years, consumers have requested price transparency from hospitals and healthcare providers. Finally, negotiated-rate information is becoming available and being reported by hospitals; negotiated-rate information by payers will be next.

7. New Medical Technologies
 

The next wave of medical technologies will not only include more comprehensive remote patient monitoring devices, such as those for blood sugar, arrhythmias, and blood pressure, but also surgery robots. Both of these advances will help to reduce costs while also providing time-savings and minimizing the need for in-person visits.

8. Private Investments in Innovation
 

Private equity and venture capital investments in the healthcare industry are skyrocketing, especially when compared to other industries. Companies like Amazon are purchasing primary care organizations, such as One Medical for $3.9 billion, with the goal of improving overall patient experience. Walgreens, CVS, and Walmart have all increased their efforts to provide primary care services at their storefronts and streamline the entire experience for patients.

However, healthcare is both a business and also highly personal; it remains to be seen if the public embraces the idea of large corporations gaining access to their medical records.

As a business, healthcare is booming, especially as the population ages. From an investment standpoint, it is highly desirable.

9. Consolidation of Patient Care
 

More and more, physician groups are looking to expand their offerings in order to keep patients in-house. The “one-stop shop” approach to medicine has several benefits, including convenience for the customer. There is more continuity in care, increased profits for the physician group rather than referring a patient out-of-practice, and the back-end paperwork side of things is simplified. It will take more time until patients have a truly seamless transition on their care journey, but the groundwork is already being laid.

Conclusion
 

After what might be considered a period of stagnancy, the healthcare industry is undergoing a massive transformation. As patients demand changes, physicians recognize the need for advancements, and large companies and investors see the room for improvement, a perfect storm is making for a period of rapid growth. Although traditional hospital systems may fall behind in the race to improve customer experience and thus retain patients (and profits), the end result is that patients are finally being catered to after years of abuse.

Through a myriad of technological innovations and creative approaches to long-term problems, the entire healthcare experience is being revolutionized before our eyes. Within just a few years, we can expect to see many of these trends become standardized nationwide.









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