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What's to Come for 2020 Healthcare Trends?

During the last decade, health care evolved at a rapid pace and included substantial technological advances, troublesome price increases, and insurance challenges. Patients and providers dealt with a decade that was indeed a mixed bag of positive and negative factors. Medical experts were better able to battle cancer and other serious diseases but struggled to deal with increased paperwork and government regulation. Patients could find advanced life-saving treatments but often had trouble paying for them. Through it all, a debate raged about whether health care was a right or a privilege. What 2020 healthcare trends do we expect to see next year?

In 2020, providers will experience a shifting healthcare landscape that includes more dependence on advanced technology, remote healthcare treatment, and other medical breakthroughs. In addition, new medications and delivery methods are on the way. This decade may be the one that sees previously fatal conditions turn into chronic, manageable ones. Experts can't predict with certainty what will develop in the next decade, but they do expect the following trends to influence health care practices in 2020.

Election Year Uncertainty for 2020 Healthcare Trends

Experts predict that changes in the healthcare industry may accelerate due to the US presidential election. From the right, more attacks are expected on the ACA, while the left is promoting healthcare for all, a proposal that could eliminate a private insurance option. The industry, particularly insurance companies, may react proactively depending on the rise and fall of each party. No matter which side prevails, the effect on the industry will be fast and significant. Providers can expect to see federal laws, Medicare and Medicaid regulations, and patient insurance changes in the coming four years.

Telehealth Options

The move toward remote patient monitoring and telehealth will continue to strengthen in 2020 healthcare trends as the industry moves to provide more home healthcare options. Patients and on-site care providers will be able to confer via digital communication with physicians to provide patients excellent care without the need for a clinic or other medical facility. NextGen's recent acquisition of Otto Health has ensured that more patients will have access to this service, meaning those in a frail condition or remote area can more easily get medical help. It also helps patients who are looking for a more convenient option for visiting the physician for their family.

The AMA supports this move toward enhanced home care options and has added new 2020 CPT codes to deal with the approach. This change includes codes that cover patient-initiated digital communication with a physician or other healthcare provider and codes that cover discussions with non-physician healthcare providers. The introduction of these codes is a recognition by the AMA that the home is often the easiest and sometimes the best place to receive medical care. These additions will also make insurance reimbursement a reality for providers.

Mergers & Acquisitions

Organizations looking to expand their service offerings in the healthcare market space will continue to merge and acquire similar organizations. With the rise of private equity in healthcare, we will continue to see increased M&A activity. With this activity, we expect to see more sophisticated organizations with improved technology and a more substantial focus on the revenue cycle sector of practices. We will also expect to see an increase in data conversions as organizations will try to consolidate their technology.

Improved Efficiency

In the past, many medical providers were not known for their business efficiency. Physicians have rightfully focused on providing excellent patient care. However, the two goals go hand in hand because patient care improves at a well-run medical facility. Patients are seen more quickly and are given the attention they need by expert staff backed by the latest technology.

In 2020, medical facilities will embrace more provider business solutions, including reporting and training delivered by companies such as TempDev. Medicine is a business, as well as a humanitarian practice. Streamlining the process allows physicians to focus on patient care instead of becoming bogged down in paperwork. Programs such as NextGen EPM helps providers maintain a healthy revenue flow, which enables them to provide their patients more advanced care. Patients are more likely to keep their appointments, pay their bills, and return for care when the office is a smoothly-running enterprise. Even small practices will be embracing this trend toward efficient management practices and improved technology.

Changing Healthcare Costs

Not surprisingly, industry experts agree that the cost of healthcare will rise for patients in 2020, resulting in increased group insurance premiums. Employers expect their workers' plans to cost around 5% more. These employers will still be paying approximately 70% of their employee's insurance costs, but some of the increased financial burden will be passed on to individuals. Many of these workers are already dealing with high deductibles and larger premium payments due to the current high cost of insurance. To battle these increased costs, some employers are moving back to managed care plans, which reduce costs but limit provider options.

Medicare costs are also rising. Recipients will pay higher deductibles and coinsurance amounts in the coming year. While the amounts are relatively modest, they can be difficult for seniors on a fixed income to absorb. Insurance costs are not the only issue. Prescription drug prices are expected to rise by 4.5% in 2020, affecting everyone but posing a particular challenge to seniors, especially those who take multiple drugs daily.

In contrast, plans available on the Affordable Care Act marketplace will cost enrollees about 4% less than in 2019, which makes two consecutive years that the cost has decreased. This downward trend in cost is, unfortunately, not reflective of the rest of the healthcare industry.

Insurance plans that do not meet ACA standards are once again available to consumers and may gain more enrollees in 2020. These lower-priced plans are generally high-deductible and cover catastrophic health issues rather than routine medical care. The reemergence of these policies will likely mean that patients will see their primary doctors less often, adversely affecting providers and patients.

Medical costs will continue to trend upward in 2020, in part driven by an uncertain political environment. Costs in 2021 are more of a mystery and depend on challenges to the ACA, the presidential election, and the makeup of the new House and Senate. A significant shakeup to the status quo is certainly possible.

Genomics Use

The upcoming year will also see an increase in genomics, science used to diagnose and treat patients with certain serious conditions. The trend is toward customizing medicine according to a person's individual genetic makeup. This method has been used to treat various cancers in recent years. For instance, the results of tumor testing can determine the course of treatment for breast cancer patients. Researchers are approaching other cancer treatments this way, as well. Computer analysis of genes and gene mutations make diagnosis and treatment much more precise, which improves patient outcomes. Soon, researchers expect to make genetic breakthroughs to develop cystic fibrosis and organ transplant treatments.

3D Printing

3D printing has implications for all major industries, including health care. Although doctors cannot simply print and implant a new heart into a patient, they can use 3D printing to create a replica of a patient's organ and use it to prepare for a complex surgical procedure. They can also inexpensively print sophisticated surgical tools and other medical devices that are customized for their needs. This process can occur right in the office, saving time and money.

This technology is already being used to create better fitting and less expensive prosthetic limbs for patients. In 2020, this technology will continue to expand and become more common outside of large population centers. Smaller practices will find numerous ways to incorporate the 3D printer into their patient care.

Artificial Intelligence

In 2020, AI technology will continue to transition from experimental applications to practical ones. Medical professionals are generally enthusiastic about these breakthroughs because they don't fear being replaced by this technology. The idea of an AI physician is still the stuff of science fiction - so far. Current AI is meant to enhance medical practices, particularly by making diagnoses easier. For instance, AI already exists that can diagnose diabetic retinopathy, a severe eye disease that causes deteriorating vision. Usually, this technology requires the use of expensive, clinic-based machines, but even that is changing. A new invention, the RentinaScope, is an accurate system that uses a smartphone camera to diagnose retinopathy.

Other AI equipment is being used to diagnose lung cancer more accurately than doctors can. Soon, the average person may have access to a wearable sensor that detects heart disease. In all, AI will be big in the 2020 healthcare trends.

The TempDev Advantage in Preparing for 2020 Healthcare Trends

2020 will bring exciting new treatments and other breakthroughs in the medical industry. Patients will have more options than ever before. Many will be able to receive the care they need at home. Some will be diagnosed by AI apparatus. Others will benefit from genetic analysis and 3D printing. All of these trends mean better care for patients and increased opportunities for providers. Unfortunately, the rising costs of health care may limit patient access to some of the more exciting innovations. These costs are also an incredible challenge to providers.

TempDev can help you meet the challenges of 2020 by giving you solutions to your most difficult issues. They are expert consultants in NextGen Healthcare software, a leading company in ambulatory practice management and EHRs. They work with you to enhance the efficiency of your practice, which leads to higher patient and physician satisfaction. As a result, your revenue flow strengthens and puts your practice on a more solid financial footing.

Superior patient care must always be the focus of any medical practice. You can better serve your patients if you enlist the help of TempDev, the expert in provider management services. Contact TempDev by calling 888.TEMP.DEV or going here.


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