Forrester: Here are 4 key frontiers for healthcare innovation over the next decade

As the healthcare system continues to adapt to the realities of COVID-19, changes made now will have ripple effects over the next decade, according to a new report from analysts at Forrester.

The report outlines several key areas that will likely be the most impacted by industry changes going on today. The researchers interviewed executives at health systems, insurers and retail pharmacies as well as experts from the National Institutes of Health and other organizations to compile the list.

"The healthcare industry learned what it was capable of amid a pandemic, a time when digital laggards faced a business imperative to transform into early adopters," the researchers wrote.

"As a result, healthcare digital transformation accelerated by a decade in a matter of months. However, consumer expectations rose even faster, saddling HCOs with unprecedented demands," they said in the report. "The speed of transformation came with a mix of negative and positive changes that both exacerbated health disparities and forever altered the way we receive medical care."

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Here's a look at a few of the most impacted sectors highlighted in the report.

Value-based care will become the dominant payment approach

The industry has been beating the drum on value-based care for some time, but major hurdles prevented a significant number of providers from fully embracing its potential. However, the analysts argue shifts to home care and preventive care, as well as changes to the labor force, enable far greater adoption.

To see success in this area continue, the analysts said, performance metrics should hold all stakeholders accountable, not just providers, and engage consumers more in their care.

Care continues to shift to the home

The home will become the front line for healthcare, the researchers said. A significant shift to home health occurred under the pandemic, and those gains will likely continue. The benefits of home health are felt across the ecosystem, according to the report, from cost savings to patient experience improvements.

"As utilization of physical assets decreases, hospital closures will continue at a rapid pace, and health insurers will quickly swoop in to buy up assets to control the cost of care for their members," the researchers said.

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In the digital age, trust is critical

As healthcare continues to embrace both digital health solutions and engaging with patients through digital avenues, it's key to build a foundation of trust, according to the report. This includes both combating misinformation and ensuring they're confident in their decision-making.

Transparency is another crucial element of the industry's digital transformation, the analysts said. New entrants with new models, like subscription-based Hims & Hers, are taking the charge in this endeavor.

Decentralized, democratized data

The report predicts that by 2030, patients will have the ability to control their own health data. The industry will also begin to rely significantly on consumer-generated data rather than on information input into electronic health records by providers.

This plays into the development of trust, the analysts said, as patients demand access to this information when and where they need it.