The Top 12 Healthcare Industry Trends to Watch in 2024 and Beyond

Updated on January 7, 2024
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Thanks to constant upgrades in technology, healthcare has quickly become a boundless industry. There are innovation opportunities for both large and small providers alike.

By 2029, the healthcare industry will have added 2.4 million jobs making it one of the fastest-growing sectors in the country. But to find the latest and greatest opportunities it’s not necessary to look nearly a decade ahead.

Here are 12 of the most important healthcare industry trends to watch in 2020 and beyond.

1. Continuity of Care

The greatest benefit of consumer technology is that it puts the healthcare industry on the map. Never before have people flocked to fitness and health-related products in an effort to avoid disease.

But with these trends in living a better lifestyle comes an opportunity to serve patients anywhere they go. Expect better continuity of care in 2020.

Continuity of care means you can treat patients in between doctor’s visits to ensure satisfaction. Continuity of care doesn’t just apply to people who are ill.

You can expect to receive much-needed data from patients who are healthy but want to make lifestyle changes like increased fertility or weight loss.

The ability to share data instantaneously through a wide range of technological tools is one of the biggest opportunities for healthcare providers in 2020. For example, apps like the Asthma Action Hero help pediatricians treat children with asthma on the go.

You won’t have to risk patient privacy with this encrypted app since data is only stored on the device. The app works by asking the child how it feels each day using push notifications. 

Apps like the Asthma Action Hero take the heat off providers and parents to help children self manage chronic conditions. This app has a superior sharing feature that allows parents to email copies of the child’s asthma history for up to 3 months.

Since people with asthma don’t need to see a doctor for asthma checkups more than once a quarter, this gives providers insight into how the patient is feeling day-to-day.

Providers can learn things like how well asthma medication is working or how often the child visits the emergency room simply by requesting a copy of the child’s digital asthma calendar.

2. Healthcare Reform

There aren’t two ways about it. The 2020 presidential election will transform healthcare industry trends for years to come.

Both President Trump or Vice President Biden stand to gain from significant policy changes in the world of healthcare. Major healthcare regulations helped Americans through the Great Recession making it a key focus area for each candidate.

The public expects improvements on previous policies that left certain groups lacking in care. Affordability issues are at the forefront now as both candidates debate on which method will bring coverage to the largest number of people.

The push and pull of healthcare reform will likely continue over the long term as the nation tries to grapple with budget deficits caused by reform bills. There’s no one size fits all approach that can resolve healthcare coverage woes quickly.

Expect a trial and error approach to healthcare in 2020 and beyond. But there will be other elements like guaranteed issue without medical underwriting and means-tested subsidies that might be resolved through a better-managed care model.

The downside is that this increases the amount of risk to providers. Employers will have to reconsider sponsored health benefits to make sure their coverage still creates a win-win situation for both them and their employees. 

3. Accessibility

The rapid growth of urgent care won’t slow down in 2020. You can expect to see urgent care centers sprouting up everywhere to meet the demands of consumers who prefer immediate treatment.

Large healthcare providers should take note of growing patient demands for instant gratification. Social media, movies, TV, and even transportation are available to people whenever and wherever they want help.

The on-demand culture now extends into healthcare. The idea of waiting weeks, or months, for an appointment opening seems extreme to patients who want to control their time and spend.

Urgent care centers are attractive offering longer weekday hours and weekend hours to patients with an immediate need for treatment. If your practice isn’t able to follow an on-demand model, you’ll need to look for better options to provide quality care to keep patients coming back.   

4. Digital Credibility

Online reviews are taking the healthcare industry by storm. Patients provide personal stories about interactions with doctors that can make or break your brand reputation.

As the number of review sites grows, there’s a need to control the narrative about your brand. Providers need stronger ways to protect their credibility online using the best seo company.

People are more tempted to write reviews after a negative experience than a positive one. You’ll need incentives in place that encourage conversation beyond your practice.

This is what makes social media a goldmine for the healthcare industry. Social media channels offer the chance to engage with patients ongoing. It also offers industry professionals the chance to connect and share their ideas with eachother Рthis healthcare podcast, for example, goes into detail about the industry from the inside and can be enjoyed by both healthcare professionals and those outside of the profession who just want to learn more.

Being active on your channels shows potential patients you care about your brand and the larger community.  Engagement won’t come naturally for most providers.

Your instinct to share healthcare news might repel the interests of your audience. It’s important to understand your audience so that you create content that’s relevant to their interests.

There’s a delicate balance between crafting interesting stories and maintaining your credibility in the medical community. Trial and error help you find ways to walk that fine line while helping to control your online reputation. 

5. Consumer Tech

Your practice will need to adapt to the tech-savviness of your patients. They’re looking for convenience and will find it among dozens of mobile apps that help them manage their condition.

If your practice is behind on technology, you’ll have a difficult time understanding patient needs. Providers need to find a way to remain informed on new digital health trends including wearables, mobile apps, and devices that improve patient care.

You’ll get questions from patients who expect you to be aware of all things healthcare. Missing a few trends is expected, but if you aren’t a resource for patients looking for more information about the technology they’re using expect to lose credibility.

Providers can’t become all-knowing in troubleshooting how to use each app in the app store, but simply having a general idea of what’s being released and how it works can keep you ahead of the competition. 

6. Agile Friendly Work Environments

Agile work environments exist to turn customers into raving fans. But to make this happen, everyone within a company has to be able to work as a team to solve complex problems quickly.

One of the growing healthcare industry trends of 2020 and beyond is creating an Agile work environment to better address patient needs. Scrum is one of the most common Agile work environments because it allows for more innovation from everyone within an organization.

There’s a delicate balance in the healthcare industry between meeting customer demands and honoring regulations. Big pharma can’t innovate quickly and offer the safest product on the market.

Enter software engineering teams and their Agile friendly work environments. Digital teams offer the largest opportunity to create a collaborative work environment within an organization.

If a physical drug can’t be produced at lightning speed, that doesn’t mean the organization’s technology can pick up its pace. Internal teams have to be able to come together in an open culture of idea-sharing in order for an Agile environment to work.

Administrative burdens cloud innovation. This is one of the biggest weaknesses of large healthcare systems that can’t easily pivot to meet patient demands.

Providers are pushing toward restructuring internally to help teams find solutions faster and easier. 

7. Social and Behavioral Care

Growing health trends provide an opportunity for providers to look at the social factors that influence patient health. In 2020, you’ll find providers looking for ways to connect beyond a standard doctor’s visit to address these issues.

Things like socioeconomic status, neighborhood, and employment affect population health. Providers can no longer ignore what goes on with patients beyond their four walls.

It’s estimated that around 70 percent of Americans with behavioral health problems also have a physical health condition. This means there’s a major opportunity to meet the needs of underserved Americans.

To serve a population now means serving their social interests to provide better quality care. 

8. Consolidation

In 2018, more than 800 mergers were announced in the healthcare field. This consolidation trend will continue as providers look for more streamlined ways to operate.

There are mixed reviews on whether this trend helps or hurts the industry. But either way, it’s an opportunity for smaller healthcare providers to get access to better technology and resources.

This means they’ll be less likely to reject an offer to join a larger system if it can help them meet the needs of a wider pool of patients. 

9. Telehealth

A growing health industry trend in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic is telehealth. This trend was already picking up steam before 2020 but has skyrocketed to meet the need for physical distancing.

Frontline workers battling the coronavirus outbreak welcome the addition of telehealth to patient care. It reduces the number of bodies in a practice or hospital while providing similar levels of care that a patient would expect in-office. 

Mobile doctor’s visits are also on-trend as patients avoid public health space but still need a physical visit with a physician. Apps like Heal keep doctors busy with house calls 7 days a week.

There’s an opportunity for large providers to follow suit finding ways to meet patients in their homes outside during normal office hours. 

10. Artificial Intelligence

Big data is tough to navigate. With trillions of data bits floating around the internet, providers are using turning to technology to narrow down their data so they can make more informed decisions.

Artificial intelligence is one of the top ways to sort through information about patients that can help improve their care. In the long run, artificial intelligence and machine learning offer ways to decrease costs since providers can rely on digital assistants to gather information. 

11. Demand for Talent

Expect labor shortages to be on the rise in 2020 and beyond. The healthcare industry is growing faster than its talent pool.

Healthcare providers will need to be savvy to avoid overworking teams. An overworked or rushed team threatens the quality of care patients receive.

But this is where opportunities also present themselves. Technology stands to bridge the gap in patient care as long as it doesn’t skip steps that damage a patient’s experience. 

In the next decade, there will be more Baby Boomers in the U.S. than children. This means an over-reliance on technology could backfire if a solution isn’t created to treat this growing demographic alongside younger patients. 

12. Cybersecurity

HIPAA compliance is a constantly moving target. When large healthcare systems merge, they are opening themselves up to bigger compliance risks.

Transferring large amounts of administrative data into one system means being vulnerable to attacks. Unlike a credit card number, patients can’t replace health records.

It’s important for providers to increase their grip on patient data to avoid the possibility of exposing sensitive information online. The main motivation for these attacks is financial which means a provider is vulnerable the minute they announce the merger. 

Encourage information sharing between your IT department and other internal teams. Educating your staff helps to encourage best practices and combats potential data leaks. 

Healthcare Industry Trends to Watch in 2020

The top healthcare industry trends to watch are all related to technology in some way. These trends are easier for organizations that already follow Agile principles in problem-solving. 

These organizations can adapt quickly to patient needs without compromising the quality of care. Use your team’s innovation to find solutions to issues with continuity of care across age groups.

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