I came across an interesting article which talked about different health trend predictions over the next decade. As in, what can we expect to see in healthcare over the next few years in terms of technology, legal issues, and patient data?
This is a space that I have tried to stay on top of because of my work as a healthcare consultant. Which is a great career option for anyone who is interested in doing more with their medical expertise than just seeing patients.
Here are a few healthcare trends of the future to look out for. And if you have any interest in being an expert in any of these topics, you could certainly create a consulting gig from it.
Furthermore, the reason I care about healthcare trends of the future is because I’m tired of my profession changing all around me, with me having no say in it. The next wave which hits healthcare, I’ll be surfing it into retirement.
#1. Personal Connected Health
The umbrella term of Personal Connected Health refers to the patient’s ability to merge their personal health data with their clinical health care. It’s defined in more nerdy detail here.
Patients want to create their own health environment by using apps, technology, and data in order to have an individualized health strategy.
At this time it’s very easy for us to collect a ton of data from digital healthcare trends. But will this information be clinically useful?
I see a place for someone to educate large medical groups, healthcare providers, and patients.
#2. Digital Health Solutions
This is a continuation of #1 but it focuses specifically on using technology to provide better care or more timely care to patients.
A patient may want to travel the world but wants to maintain access to their own doctor in their home zip code. Digital health solutions allow for this.
Digital health solutions allow us to reach those patients who live remotely and victims of natural/man-made disasters. Ironically, most states haven’t adequately expanded their telemedicine rules to cover such patients.
I could see someone creating a “Digital Wellness Package” for patients and marketing it to private medical offices. This could be everything from personal EKG’s to personal cameras for the ear and a telemedicine app, which would be connected directly to that office.
#3. Health and Wellness
13 years seeing patients on my own and I haven’t been able to come up with a definition of health and wellness. Healthcare trends of the future will involve figuring this out in more detail.
Either the healthcare consumers will define it for themselves – which is unlikely – or the healthcare giants will determine a definition for us. Much like how insulin in 2019 is synonymous with treating diabetes; which is the exact opposite of how you should treat DM2.
I could see someone creating a brand and interest group around this topic. Defining health and wellness could be a lucrative space if you can stamp various services with your approval.
#4. Mobile Health Applications
Mobile applications are dime a dozen. But only a few have gotten FDA approval. And, observing US healthcare trends, it’s likely that most of the mobile apps marketed to patients will need FDA approval.
If you are interested in learning what it takes to get the FDA approval, you can do healthcare consulting in that space. The future of healthcare will sadly involve even more regulations.
Or you could do consumer testing for software developers. It’s unlikely that they will have a deep understanding of patient behavior.
Or … you could educate physicians on which kinds of mobile apps to prescribe to what kind of patients. Maybe creating a prescribing portal for such software.
Or… you can create a review site to review all of these different mobile applications, targeting the healthcare consumer.
#5. Remote Monitoring Services
Elderly patients and high-risk patients will need monitoring. There are such services already available but they have long ways to go.
Personal digital devices will likely be heavily marketed to the elderly patient population. On one of my podcasts I talked about how elderly patients are monitored in their home to detect if they had a fall, are moving less, going to the bathroom more, which would allow us to diagnose dementia, delirium, and even UTI’s using machine learning technology.
Nobody has established best-practices in regards to such devices. And perhaps we haven’t given enough thought to all of the different market opportunities.
If you can be an expert in this space then you could do well for yourself consulting with various tech companies, helping them expand their reach.
#6. Machine Learning
One of my pet projects is machine learning, a topic in which I do clinical consulting. It’s about taking patient data and making health predictions with it. Imagine the difference we could make in patient’s lives with that.
Using ML makes it possible for us to sift through a lot of patient data and make meaningful predictions. Without it, it’s impossible to make sense of that much data.
There are a lot opportunities in the AL/ML space for a clinician who is comfortable learning some code and computer/data science.
#7. Digital Heath Space
Back to the 30,000 foot view, the digital health space is so much so in its infancy that many don’t believe that healthcare trends of the future will move mostly to the online space.
Who will help traditional medical groups migrate online? Who will determine what counts as digital health and what isn’t? We always believe that there is some expert out there doing it – but why can’t that be you or me?
The digital health space has a huge audience right now. From investors to politicians to patients to interest groups to doctors.
You can become an expert and develop a niche anywhere on this continuum. And the work will likely keep you busy over the next decade.
#8. Smart Electronic Health Records
Dunno about your EHR but every one I’ve used is dumb as dog shit. It’s not only exhausting but I feel like I’m getting dumber the more times I have to interact with one.
The data we enter in an EHR could be analyzed and we could incorporate decision trees in order to ensure better patient outcomes. Alas, that’s not the case.
My cell phone keyboard can predict the next word I’m gonna type but my EHR can’t predict that I’m going to order an A1C for a diabetic…come on now!
#9. Diagnostic Wearables
We will see patients using more personal devices which collect health data. Diagnostic wearables are devices which gather clinical information from the patient. This can be used to come up with a diagnosis remotely or locally from an app or device.
Imagine all of the things we use in the clinic or hospital to come up with a diagnosis. Much of that will eventually be marketed directly to the patient. Especially, lab tests.
Patients have been able to order their own lab tests for some time. In home testing is right around the corner.
Same as above, you can review the products or you can teach the consumer how to better interpret the information from these diagnostic wearables.
If you are fascinated by the science then you can certainly get into that space on the tech level. Smart Fabrics (e-textiles) are popular.
#10. Patient Data Security
It’s all about data security these days and even though patients themselves aren’t making a big fuss, shady political interest groups are making it seem as though we are petrified of health data breaches.
This tactic is used to pass favorable laws in order for powerful tech groups to make more money. Regardless, understanding health related data and deciding who gets to do what with what kind of data – that will be a big topic of discussion.
Frankly, I have no idea how we as clinicians could get into this space. If you have any ideas, comment below.
#11. Universal Health Care Implementation
Universal health Care is going to be a very important discussion over the next few years. The population of the world is getting more and more unhealthy.
Previously, governments and businesses cared minimally about this. In fact, many were profiting off of us getting sicker. Now, these companies are at risk of losing their work-force – at least the ones which they can’t replace by nuts and bolts and a circuit board.
Learning about this topic and understanding which parts of healthcare can be universalized and which can remain privatized could make you a desirable expert in this field.
#12. Preventative Medicine
No offense to anyone who is a Preventatist, but telling people to eat better and exercise isn’t working. Patients are looking for convenience.
How will technology penetrate preventative medicine? How can we use data to make solid health outcome predictions? What interventions can we make which are highly effective?
Predicting diseases will be an important part of future healthcare trends.
#13. Virtual Health Assistants
Staffing will be important looking forward to the future. The kind of staffing I am referring to are individuals who know how to navigate virtual medicine.
Staffing virtual physicians and virtual nurses will be important. And staffing agencies make very good money.
It won’t just be physicians and nurses but also virtual health assistants. Virtual health assistants may not earn top dollar but they will be able to work remotely and will help patients navigate the virtual healthcare environment.
#14. Voice Technology
I wrote about voice technology before. It’s another space that I would like to learn more about. Our interactions with technology in the clinic and in the hospital will likely be more and more voice based.
The future of healthcare will be shaped by how we use technology to help us be more efficient. Right now, it’s the exact opposite. We’re all burning out from technology.
Let me talk to a patient in the exam room and have some smart device transcribe the whole SOAP note and place all of the proper orders. It’s doable and I would love to have a role in this.