The advancements in science and technology are clearly making life better for many people. Take for instance the traditional patient and doctor consultation. Mobile technology, app development, and other improvements in between have expedited the process and made it better.
Modern medical consultation practices such as telemedicine and virtual clinics are becoming more and more popular. In Sullivan, Missouri lies the 125,000-square foot facility Mercy Virtual Care Center wherein 300 medical experts—from physicians to nurses—extend their help while in front of a computer display. This center oversees over 38 hospitals—which even includes intensive care units—across several states. Mercy Virtual’s president Randall Moore points out what makes this service both special and important: “By virtually monitoring ICUs 24/7, we’re getting to problems earlier.” This has led to over 1,000 ICU patients being sent home who were at some point expected not to make it.
Here are three other key changes in healthcare policies to know about next year.
Social Media Security
Aside from improving consultation processes and health service, social media is bettering healthcare and public health by becoming a platform where people may exchange and disperse information at any given time. However, there is a downside to this. Shannon Dosemagen of Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science and Lee Aase of Mayo Clinic Center for Social Media explains the reality: “Social media is a two-way street, and allows non-experts to share information just as rapidly as health agencies, if not more so.” The importance of ensuring accurate information is dispersed is not only for public safety but for the credibility of the healthcare institutions as well. That’s why in the coming year we can expect hospitals and other healthcare organizations to have internal contingency protocols and policies for such situations. “Health agencies need to have plans in place ahead of time to be able to respond to and counter misinformation or support accurate information shared via social media,” Dosemagen and Aase add.
Healthcare and Health Insurance Come Together for Data Analytics
It is just a matter of time before healthcare and health insurance truly coalesce, and that time is likely now. Health insurance providers need something tangible to use as basis in their underwriting processes, and that something tangible is being obtained continuously by the healthcare industry. Through the careful use of data analytics, healthcare providers can, among other things, create accurate health profiles focusing on a number of different demographics, identify health trends, and gain a deeper, more nuanced understanding of various medical conditions. Health insurance providers, meanwhile, can use these health profiles and trends as markets when identifying potential policy holders, creating premium tiers, and setting and reviewing policies.
Data analytics is all about harnessing collected information such that they can be used purposefully, and the health insurance sector is now seemingly cognizant of how data-driven decision-making has become a necessity in the industry. Investors are even putting in money for InsureTech companies like Health IQ which are using data analytics to give clients customized packages based on data that they, themselves will provide. A 4% discount, for instance, is given by the Munjal Shah-founded startup to a client who can run an eight-mile mark. The reason? The data analyzed by Health IQ that takes pride of place on the company’s homepage revealed that runners have a 45% lower risk of cardiovascular mortality. Shah and his company considers this data-driven approach to insurance based on meritocracy, and more of the same can be expected this year as the healthcare and health insurance industries are starting to fully embrace the value of data analytics.
Generics on The Rise
Not all healthcare developments are dependent solely on technology. For 2018, Forbes underscores that generic brands will be more prevalent than ever before because of patent expiration. Thus, policymakers and industry players from both sides are bound to clash. As the government aims to bring down the rather costly price that comes with securing medication and other drugs, pharmaceutical firms will be looking at how they can stay competitive and lucrative. What would also follow suit is the likelihood of the Food and Drug Administration to plot policies that fall in favor of generic brands, ultimately making them more affordable to the public.