Health Care Services Trends and Outlook in 2019

The year of 2018 brought significant transformations to the health care industry, and many of these changes are expected to continue into this year. Big tech entered onto the scene in a big way, and in 2019 it is poised to be an even greater influence.

Of all the industries that will experience transformation in 2019, personal health care services is predicted to see the most radical changes. Many legacy practices are expected to be challenged, as along with significant shifts in service models and value-based care.

From data to technology, the personal health care service industry is going to expand as never before. Private partnerships will increase and artificial intelligence integration will continue. Most experts believe that there are five major trends set to impact the health landscape in 2019. If you are considering a career in the personal health care industry, or you are curious about how these predictions pertain to your current career, read about these trends below.

Electronic Health Records and Data-Driven Metrics

Collaboration among health care providers will be at the center of the evolving plans heading into this new year. Overall, information exchange among providers has been made easier with the increased integration of technology. Many health care companies are investing in computer programs that allow for remote monitoring of patients.

Similarly, Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems offer easy and immediate access to a patient’s past health records. This includes details like which doctors the patient visited, diagnoses and prescribed medications. With the help of this technology, patient “teams” consisting of medical personnel of all types can come together from various locations to cooperate in the best interests of the patient.

One of the current downsides of EHR systems at the present time is a deficiency in user friendliness. However, these issues are expected to improve as better interfaces, programming and multiple platform integration take hold in the near future.

Artificial Intelligence and Health Care

Artificial intelligence (AI) will also have its say in the emerging digital realm of health care. Clinical care can be complex and it is doubtful if AI will ever replace bedside doctors, nurses and therapists. In the meantime, what AI is now accomplishing is the automation of lab testing, analysis of results and presentation of data in a way that is helpful to the physicians for a diagnosis.

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Proper Implementation of AI is an important factor in the improvement of personal health care. Automation of everyday paperwork by AI systems could save precious hours for physicians. These recovered hours can then be spent helping more patients.

Will Virtual Health Interactions Replace Doctor Visits?

Another trend is virtual health, often referred to as video conferencing, between patient and physician. Virtual health allows communication between a caregiver and a patient without either one leaving their place of residence. Few people relish the idea of going to the doctor’s office, often because of fear or anxiety or transportation difficulties.

Related article: Today’s Virtual Workers

The number of health plans incorporating so-called telehealth has risen significantly over the past five years and will continue to rise in the future, often going live as an app on a smart phone. The added cost of telehealth is presently a disadvantage, which some health service providers and health plans are finding difficult to handle. To address this, last year a proposal was made by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid to pay physicians for virtual visits with patients.

The Medicare Advantage

As the Baby Boomer generation approaches retirement age, personal health care services is also expected to experience a boom, as well. Last year saw the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services take a major step forward by announcing that certain in-home care services that do not require skilled labor would be covered under Medicare Advantage. Now, the personal healthcare service industry is hurrying to cash in on this new addition to the Medicare plan.

Although most analysts do not expect this opportunity to come to fruition until 2020 or 2021, it is inevitable. With 35 percent of eligible Medicare patients signing up for Medicare Advantage as of the end of 2018, and more still signing up quarterly, the market growth will be significant.

The Skilled Labor Problem

The expected rise in demand for skilled labor in the home health care and personal health care markets will be challenging for the service corporations. Presently the industry’s employee turnover rate hovers between 40 and 60 percent. Economic predictions point to this trend continuing and possibly getting worse in 2019.

Currently, there is not enough of an internal labor pool for the major corporate players to draw on, forcing them to look outside the U.S. for qualified workers. However, the tightening of U.S. immigration policies adds to the problem. Competition for workers from retail giants is another factor, as online retailers are raising minimum wages and thus forcing other companies to do the same. This has triggered a shift in employees moving away from the health care industry.

A Pivot Toward Patient-Centered Models

Aforward movement away from simple competiveness and profitability began in 2018, and it is gaining speed and growing in proportion in 2019. A shift from selling large volumes of product to delivering high value and better patient outcomes will continue well into 2019, as life science companies shift commercial models to reflect this new philosophy.

While the health care insurance models continue to shift and evolve, the patient care model and competition for new patients will increase drastically as well. Those interested in pursuing a career in the personal health care fields, whether in medicine or more administrative roles, can look for growth in most areas. Predictive models indicate that employees will enjoy more of the best incentives and added benefits than ever before, especially as the work force becomes more specialized.

Consumers will begin to demand from their health care system and providers what they are already demanding of their retail and online interactions: a personalized service experience. The personal health care companies that are able to incorporate these new objectives into their operations are sure to enjoy a very strong wave of patient loyalty.

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