We were excited to have over a thousand attendees participate in a live Q&A and survey, which asked “Which trends covered today are the most important to you?” In this survey, consolidation won by a landslide:
Consolidation – 288 votes
Consumerism – 164 votes
Telehealth – 158 votes
AI & Machine Learning – 128 votes
Staffing Shortages – 127 votes
Cybersecurity – 108 votes
Ancillary Technology – 108 votes
Wearables – 61 votes
Did you miss the webinar? Here is a recap, in order of our viewers’ preferences:
1. Industry consolidation & new entrants
The healthcare industry is consolidating rapidly as it moves toward value-based care. In 2018, Definitive Healthcare tracked an astounding 803 mergers and acquisitions (M&As) and 858 affiliation and partnership announcements, which means that consolidations were taking place almost every single business day of the year.
Fig 1: 2018 M&A data from Definitive Healthcare’s platform
There are conflicting views on what all of this means. Some see the consolidation trend as a movement toward lower costs and better care, as smaller hospitals become affiliated with bigger healthcare systems and better technologies, but others are concerned about the growing power of healthcare industry giants. Either way, this trend is here to stay – and is even slated to accelerate over the next few years.
The healthcare consumer today is frugal, technology savvy, and seeking convenience:
Cost: 65 percent of commercial insurance respondents selected cost as a top factor when choosing where to seek care.
Technology-driven: Patients are increasingly looking at online reviews, transparent pricing, and satisfaction ratings for local providers to determine where they will go to get their treatments.
Convenience:McKinsey’s surveys show the growing proliferation of post-acute environments, like retail clinics. In fact, over the past four years, consumers who report using retail clinics has climbed from 9 percent to 24 percent in younger generations.
Personalization is becoming very important – there’s no longer a “one-size-fits-all” care model in place, and we see this in the reduction of the number of people that see a primary care provider. Younger generations may be content to simply visit a nearby urgent care clinic to receive treatment.
According to Definitive Healthcare’s 2017 Inpatient Telemedicine Study, over 70 percent of consumers would rather use video than visit their primary care provider in person. Telehealth is already growing fast, accounting for almost $22B in 2017, and it is expected to reach $93.45B by 2026.
4. AI & machine learning
Artificial Intelligence is the most talked about technology since the cloud, and for a good reason. There is an explosion of data in our society with 2.5 quintillion bytes of data generated each day. Hospitals, in particular, have more data than they know what to do with. The first wave of technology adoption in hospitals has been focused on collecting process, patient, financial, and organizational data, but now there is an increasing need to move toward understanding and utilizing this data to decrease costs and improve care. Many hospitals are starting to turn toward artificial intelligence to solve this problem.
5. Staffing shortages
There are two reasons behind the recent healthcare staffing shortage – a shifting workforce and shifting patient demographics. Approximately 55 percent of all registered nurses are 50 years old or older, and 52 percent of the active physician workforce is 55 or older.
With an aging population, we need more care than ever, but there are fewer nurses and physicians available. On top of this, regulations are changing. For example, in 2018, Massachusetts had a ballot question that would have required an increase in the nurse-to-patient ratio. Although this particular question did not pass, other states may place similar votes on the ballot to increase the mandated ratio of nurses to patients – making this issue even more prominent.
An increase in mergers and acquisitions have created new vulnerabilities in information sharing. In 2018 alone, we saw many data breaches that exploited healthcare records; eight of those breaches exposed over 500,000 healthcare records, and three of those breaches revealed over a million. These attacks are high-profile and often highly-targeted, with the majority being financially motivated. Healthcare is already high stakes with personal, sensitive data – and will continue to be a main target for attacks in the coming years.
7. Optimization & Ancillary Technology
Currently, the healthcare technology install base is varied. There are many different vendors targeting different areas of the market, and this creates a lot of barriers to interoperability. If you look at the vendor market share for outpatient EHR systems, you can see that there are over 18 different vendors across the space.
Fig 2: Vendor market share of outpatient EHR technologies from the Definitive Healthcare platform, accessed March 2019
Clearly, the healthcare technology space is crowded and complicated. Information systems need to be able to send a patient’s medical information back and forth in a coordinated manner - within and across organizational boundaries - in order to access and exchange data sets. In 2019, there will be a greater shift toward semantic operability, which allows information management systems to interpret and derive insights from the shared data.
The wearable and remote patient monitoring market has just started to take off; the Apple watch can now detect irregular heart rhythms and diabetics can monitor their blood sugar levels with digital glucose monitors.
This trend is still in its early stages, with only 1,800 hospitals using mobile applications (less than 25 percent of all U.S. hospitals), according to Definitive Healthcare’s data. But, the wearable market is projected to reach $12.1B by 2021 and the remote monitoring market is projected to grow to $31.3B by 2023 – almost double where it is today.
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