Unintentionally, Patients Will Bear The Cost of A Healthcare System In Transition

2020 predictions from Luma Health chief medical officer and co-founder, Dr. Tashfeen Ekram.

Dr. Tashfeen Ekram

As a country we’re expected to spend about $1.3 trillion for hospital care this year. With an average profit margin of 8%, hospitals have higher margins than the pharmacy or insurance industries. Patients are bearing the brunt of these rising costs and as a result, crowdsourcing sites have seen an influx of patients requiring help to pay their medical bills. Some patients are even avoiding the U.S. medical system all together as demonstrated by higher numbers of medical tourism to countries that provide cheaper access to surgeries and other procedures.

To mitigate inflated costs and retain patients, providers in the year to come will implement savvier solutions to reach patients, such as telehealth visits or new ways of engaging with patients across their care journey to help them stay on top of their health and wellbeing. We will also see an increasing variety of innovative payment and business models to balance cost and outcomes.

Amazon will help build the lingua franca for healthcare, unless CMS does it first

The pursuit to democratize access to health data across providers and patients alike remains a critical one. Only by breaking down the data silos that providers, devices and wearables build can EHR systems be gleaned for the treasure troves of insight and help provide increasingly personalized medicine for better clinical outcomes.

Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce have pledged to open up interoperability via their involvement in FHIR, but this past year, CMS might have made the biggest move in interoperability by opening up an API for access to patient billing data. And when CMS decides on something, history shows that most will follow.

Retail clinics will improve access to care for patients, but quality remains uncertain

The thousands of retail clinics now providing patient care as a result of players like CVS, Walgreens and Walmart entering the healthcare market will improve care for millions of patients, who can now go across the street for easy access to basic healthcare services. To keep up with higher patient expectations around speed of access and convenience that consumerized access to care brings with it, providers across the board will turn to new solutions and partnerships to increase access and convenience, upping their game and retain the patients they risk losing to consumerized care.

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