It's hard to deny the influence patients as consumers are having on the healthcare industry, and many predict that 2015 will be the year of the consumer.
When it comes to health technology, consumers and providers of care are in parallel universes, but next year the industry will see "consumers, patients and caregivers pressure providers to converge toward greater convenience, access, transparency and quality using health IT," according to Jane Sarasohn-Kahn, a health economist and management consultant, writing at iHealthBeat.
Four of the changes patients will cause to happen in 2015, according to Sarasohn-Kahn, include:
- Healthcare embraces do-it-yourself: Consumers will seek quality retail experience in healthcare, Sarasohn-Kahn writes. One example of this is patients' requests for online scheduling, something that could save billions for providers by saving time and filling spots open by cancelations, Sarasohn-Kahn says.
- Employers play a role in wearable use: Employers will play a bigger role in getting wearables to stick around, she predicts. "As employers couple high-deductible health plans with wellness initiatives, companies will play a growing role as 'sponsor' for health tracking devices," Sarasohn-Kahn writes.
- Telemedicine will expand: As healthcare reimbursement aligns with consumers' interests in convenience, Sarasohn-Kahn says, telehealth will be "more viable than ever before." She points to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' proposal on expanded telehealth coverage as evidence of this. "Medicare's coverage of remote patient care will inspire commercial insurance companies to expand telehealth coverage," she writes.
- Social and consumer-generated data growth: Capturing more personal health data will help healthcare providers manage population health and "take on the financial risk that value-based health plans and accountable care organizations demand," according to Sarasohn-Kahn.
"As consumers bear more financial and clinical decision-making responsibility, their influence will be seen and felt throughout the healthcare ecosystem," she adds. "Given peoples' ubiquitous use of digital technologies in their daily lives, consumers will push providers and payers to be as user-friendly as Amazon, OpenTable and Uber."
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