Top Healthcare Trends Then, Now and Beyond

Medical heartbeat monitor chart; healthcare trends From Pokémon Go to virtual reality, this past year has seen its share of major technological developments and trends. Healthcare, among many other industries, has also seen several trends emerge, including rising popularity of wearable health technologies and an increase in virtual doctor visits. As 2016 draws to a close, it’s an ideal time to reflect on our progress so far and look ahead to the goals that are on the horizon for the New Year.

Then and Now

Over the past two years, there has been a multitude of advancements in healthcare, and meeting the demands of the virtual world has become an industry cornerstone. Although many of these groundbreaking technologies have been in the marketplace for a few years, recent improvements and adoption of these technologies have advanced at an even more rapid pace in 2016.

  • Cloud Services – Cloud services have seen rapid growth and adoption since 2014. In fact, the HIMSS 2016 Analytics Survey found that just two years ago, only 20 percent of healthcare organizations were using cloud services for health information exchange. That number has now doubled to over 41 percent, emphasizing how quickly cloud services are catching on.
  • Telemedicine – With many cloud solutions offering secure voice, chat, video and email services, telemedicine capabilities are becoming a more accessible reality. The HIMSS Analytics Essentials Brief reported that adoption of telemedicine services and solutions rose from 57.7 percent in 2015 up to 61.3 percent in 2016. Virtual care will likely increase as more providers adopt telemedicine solutions into their services.
  • Wearable Technology – Wearable devices are perhaps one of the hottest trends of 2016. Wearables have strongly impacted how patients now view their health. Although most consumers use wearables for fitness tracking, wearables for remote patient monitoring have also grown in popularity this past year. Many patients with chronic conditions are realizing the benefit of this technology, and an estimated 3 million patients are connected through some form of remote monitoring device at their homes.
  • Patient Portals – In addition to wearables helping patients monitor their health while on the go, patient portals have become another vital tool in patient engagement. Many patients now schedule appointments (45 percent) or fill annual prescriptions (44 percent) online, an increase of more than 15 percent since 2013 in both areas.

Into the Future and Beyond

Looking ahead to 2017, here are some of our predictions for another innovative year in healthcare.

  1. Cloud services for healthcare will continue to increase. Healthcare organizations are extensively increasing their cloud services, with spending exceeding $3.73 billion last year, and that number is expected to triple to $9.5 billion by 2020.
  2. Adoption of telemedicine services will continue to rise for both patients and providers. With hospital adoption of telemedicine increasing 3.5 percent annually from 2014 to 2016, roughly 55 percent of U.S. hospitals will become potential telemedicine adopters.
  3. Wearable technologies will see significant improvements and integration into the workplace. Many consumers who use wearable technologies have expressed concern about the lack of input from healthcare professionals in this technology. Next year will see an increase in this input as well as better ways to collect and use data for patient tracking purposes. Wearable technology will also permeate the workplace — 75 million wearables are predicted to be deployed in enterprise and industrial environments by 2020.
  4. At-home care will become more popular. As patient portals and cloud service technologies become ubiquitous in the industry, these technologies will become better adapted for mobility because most patients prefer to receive care from the comfort of their own homes. Doctors making house calls will no longer be a thing of the past. At-home care using these innovative technologies may be on the rise.

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