It’s no secret that the healthcare industry is feeling the pressure right now. In 2019, the National Academies of Medicine (NAM) described burnout as having reached “crisis” levels, with 54% of nurses and doctors suffer from burnout. And that was before the pandemic came and threw it all in overdrive.
And that’s without even mentioning the ever-increasing shortage of healthcare workers. The American Hospital Association has called the shortage a “national emergency” and current estimates estimate the shortage at “446,000 home health aides, 95,000 health care aides, 98,700 medical and laboratory technologists and technicians, and more than 29,000 nurse practitioners” by 2025, according to Mercer.
That being the case, you can expect to see many changes in the American healthcare landscape. As healthcare providers struggle to battle burnout, work shortages and more, here are just three healthcare trends to look out for in 2023.
In a recent Bain & Company report, health informatics ranked among the top three strategic priorities for nearly 40% of suppliers and top five for nearly 80%. This is because providers are trying to ease the burden on their shrinking but overworked staff. By investing in technology, especially automation, providers relieve physicians and other staff from the drudgery of technical processes and free them up to spend more time doing what they do best: take care of patients.
A specific area with potential for automation is prior authorization (PA). PA is, like Healthcare.gov says: “A determination by your insurer or health insurance plan that a health care service, treatment plan, prescription drug, or durable medical device is medically necessary. The goal is to ensure that patients receive the care appropriate to their medical needs. As such, the successful implementation of the PA process is largely dependent.
“AI-enabled PA can automate 50-75% of manual tasks, improving efficiency, reducing costs, and freeing clinicians from payers and providers to focus on complex cases and the actual delivery and coordination of care,” says a recent McKinsey report. “This, in turn, can improve the healthcare experience for clinicians and insurance plan members.”
More virtual care for patients
With the days of visiting the doctor at home long gone, virtual visits are the next best thing — and growing in popularity among doctors and patients alike. In 2016, only 14% of physicians performed virtual visits. In 2022, this number has reached 80%. And patients naturally benefit from the offer: in 2021, 37% of adults have used telemedicine in the past 12 monthswomen being more likely than men to use the service.
“The rate of adoption of digital health tools by physicians has accelerated as physicians become increasingly optimistic about the benefits that well-designed digital health tools can have for patient care if key requirements are met,” said Jack Resneck Jr., MD, president of the American Medical Association.
Physicians see great potential in virtual care, including helping with chronic disease management, supporting preventative care, addressing and automating administrative burdens, supporting care for less acute patients and improving access to care in underserved areas.
Greater accessibility to essential prescription drugs
In the USA, less than 2% of the population uses specialist medicines — drugs prescribed for complex conditions like arthritis and cancer — but specialty drug spending accounts for more than half of all drug spending. The high cost of these drugs places a huge burden on some of the most vulnerable among our neighbours, friends and family members.
Rather than accepting this as the status quo, some drugmakers are investing in biosimilars – products that are clinically equivalent to FDA-approved drugs – with more than 90 biosimilars currently in production and should soon hit the market.
“Biosimilars hold tremendous promise for improving the accessibility of life-changing specialty medicines, and this is part of our work to expand their access and reduce costs for the employers and members we serve,” says Katy Wong, Chief pharmacy at Cigna. Pharmacy. “By placing biosimilars on our formularies in the same place as Humira, we are also ensuring that physicians and patients have choice and flexibility when evaluating these additional biosimilar therapies.
As we continue into 2023, we are bound to see more and more evolving trends in healthcare. With these three, at least – automation, virtual care, and affordability – change means better.
Sam Wright is a project manager at Stage Marketing, a full-service content marketing agency based in Provo.