2015 was a big year in medicine, with many technological advances and even a few big breakthroughs. The pace is certainly not slowing down when it comes to advancing technology and bringing healthcare into the digital age, so 2016 should see the advancements of 2015 go even further. There may also be other changes to healthcare as we know it, brought forth by the elections and other situations. Here are a few things to look for through the next year and beyond.
1. Improved Patient Engagement through Technology
With EMRs and EHRs being used more widely than ever and mHealth apps becoming available at an increased rate, patients can now view their own medical records and take control of their own wellness like never before. With wearable technologies also improving, 2016 may see wearables that help patients monitor health in new and inventive ways. With mobile alerts, monitors, and even therapies, patients may see improved outcomes aided by technology.
2. Drug Pricing Legislation
In September, the price of a crucial medication used to treat auto-immune disorders was increased from $13.50 to $750. While this was not the only example of massive price increases in medications in recent times, it was certainly one of the most dramatic. The incident resulted in a public outcry against medication price gouging. We may see legislation drawn up in 2016 to prevent increases like this.
3. Even More Mergers
Mergers and acquisitions among both healthcare providers and insurance companies have been on the rise. This trend is expected to continue through 2016 as medical providers attempt to stay profitable and increase their competitive advantage. Many physicians and specialists running private practices will likely see benefits in joining larger healthcare facilities as the landscape of insurance and health related technology continues to change and become more difficult to keep up with.
4. Politically Inspired Healthcare Changes
While the next president won’t actually be sworn in until January 20, 2017, we will likely see changes to some healthcare laws brought about as the elections unfold and candidates voice their opinions. The ACA will not be repealed in 2016, but key elements may be voted out or altered. As presidential candidates continue to propose changes to healthcare and speak about unfavorable aspects of care options and insurance offerings, many issues will come up and demand attention.
5. Home Care Increase
Home care has been increasing in recent years and will probably continue to do so into 2016 as the senior population continues to expand. The preference to stay in the home rather than seek institutional style care, the increasingly crowded conditions in nursing facilities, and the greater availability of home care providers may all work to continue the trend towards “aging in place.” Insurance changes may also come about as a result of this trend.