Looking forward to healthcare industry trends in 2023, artificial intelligence (AI), social determinants of health (SDOH), and public health, along with retail health and PE (Private Equity) investment, will continue to be emerging topics. We also can expect to see a continuation of digital healthcare trends from previous years, such as improved access to personal health information. Although health services are continually evolving, we predict that the following trends in the healthcare industry will dominate in 2023.
The Rise of Retail Healthcare
Considering that patients are increasingly becoming more sophisticated healthcare consumers, it is not surprising that retail clinics are on the rise. Since patients have the freedom to exercise their ability to choose providers, retail settings often offer greater convenience and what they consider to be enhanced patient experiences. After all, retail healthcare provides them with one-stop shopping from brands and retailers that they know and trust.
But it is not just convenience that has healthcare shoppers flocking to retailers; it also is reduced cost. According to Healthcare Dive, retail clinic visits are 40% to 80% less costly than visits to a doctor’s office or ER. This is due in large part to the fact that big name retailers can offset costs through diversification of products and services.
More Focus on the Patient Experience
Keeping with the theme of patients as healthcare consumers, digital healthcare trends to watch also include the demand for a satisfying and simplified online patient experience. Consumers are now accustomed to a streamlined digital buying experience and expect no less as healthcare consumers.
Providers will need to ensure an ongoing, seamless digital experience during every step of their patient’s journey, including online scheduling, simplified access to their health records, and interoperability for smooth transitions of care. Online engagement through providers’ websites, social media presence, and online listings, such as Google Business Profiles, are more critical than ever to attract and retain patients.
EHR Evolution: From Foe to Friend
Although burn-out associated with EHR systems is well-documented, medical professionals have good reason to feel optimistic about their EHRs in 2023. Now more than ever, EHRs can be optimized for better performance at increasingly granular levels.
For providers, features including the ability to use templates with open fields for personalization, presets, and dropdowns for efficiency will save precious time and reduce user frustration. Patients benefit also through EHR connectivity to patient portal allows them to be more engaged and involved in their health decisions.
Telehealth is one of the trickier healthcare IT trends for 2023. While we can expect to see continued utilization of telehealth, there is a great deal of uncertainty around the question of reimbursement. Healthcare organizations will be better served to look at telehealth as a tool rather than a business model. This is not only because of reimbursement uncertainty, but also because it can be difficult for providers to build a patient panel and differentiate their practice using a telehealth model for business.
Continued Staffing Shortages
Not all current healthcare trends are new. Unfortunately, staffing shortages continue in 2023 as clinicians retire, quit, or choose more lucrative specialty and/or entrepreneurship opportunities. Other factors include burnout, especially in a post-COVID environment.
Technology will play a significant role in mitigating challenges associated with staffing shortages. An efficient, optimized EHR can make a significant impact on streamlining workflows that allow time to be reallocated to time for patient care. Advanced care providers also will help combat the shortage.
Increased Need for Advanced Care Providers
As mentioned above, the shortage of healthcare providers is not changing any time soon. Fortunately, advanced care providers, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, are helping to fill the gaps in healthcare. This is especially true in primary care and behavioral health, particularly within underserved communities.
In addition, nurse practitioners are increasingly pursuing independent practices. Continued growth in this area will help to ensure that patients have access to quality care, even amid an ongoing provider shortage.
Increased Private Equity Acquisitions
The trend in 2023 of a shift toward consolidation will impact many practices. Meanwhile, private equity (PE) firms will continue to increase their presence in the healthcare space. While consolidation has many benefits for both entities, including critical provision of resources for practices, it does not come without its challenges.
However, private equity firms face a challenge when consolidating data and systems among multiple practices and locations, which can negatively impact quality of care. Experienced, skilled consultants who can coordinate a seamless transition will become even more in demand as a result. Unfortunately, for smaller practices that wish to remain independent, PE consolidations make it even more difficult for them to compete.
Strength in Numbers
Private equity is not the only option for pooling resources. FQHCs, POs, MSOs, and ACOs all provide alternative opportunities for consolidation and access to additional resources. These will continue to be attractive options for independent and group practices for the revenue potential they provide.
By sharing resources, participants in these healthcare models can drive quality performance and improve patient outcomes – without the expense of additional staff. That means more efficient care, lowered costs, greater revenue-sharing opportunities, and improved care coordination among providers.
Emphasis on Social Determinants on Health
In 2023, the importance of understanding the impacts of social determinants on health (SDOH) – and their impacts on wellness – will increase. In fact, new CMS SDOH quality measures will be required in 2023 by hospitals, health plans, and multi-payer federal and state programs.
A recent New England Journal of Medicine survey found that only 16% of physician practices reported screening for food insecurity, housing instability, utility needs, transportation needs, and interpersonal violence. That means that providers, often with the help of social workers, have a tremendous opportunity in 2023 to capture data and gain insights into how to address the lack of health equity through preventive care interventions.
Expansion of Billable Care – Without Surprises
Billable care is expanding to meet modern needs. This means that more payers are covering treatment for behavioral and mental health, making integrated care an excellent opportunity to improve patient wellbeing, better coordinate care, and increase revenue from payers.
Patients will continue to benefit from the 2022 No Surprises Act, which protects patients when they inadvertently receive care from providers or hospitals outside their insurance network for events such as emergency care or scheduled treatment for health conditions from doctors and hospitals.
Summary: Healthcare Industry Trends 2023
While 2022 had its share of challenges, the healthcare industry has much to look forward to in 2023. Digital transformation is happening in real-time, and it is exciting to witness firsthand how it is improving the lives and health of patients. The Medical Advantage team is ready to help our clients thrive in this evolving healthcare landscape by offering agile solutions for today’s challenges and tomorrow’s future state.