In 2016, the analysts at PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) are forecasting some major trends that could potentially reshape the way providers, health insurers and patients connect with each other. Here are some of the biggest themes we can expect to see throughout the year:
PwC expects mergers to continue through 2016 at an increased pace, especially when it comes to health insurers. Insurers believe they can reduce overhead by increasing their economies of scale and gain pricing advantages by integrating more closely with other health care players.
Within the home care industry, new Medicare policies are also stimulating merger and acquisition activities, which may drive smaller providers out of business. These new policies will reduce the overall number of payments to home care providers, which will bring forth a new value based purchasing model. This would tie an agency’s payments to its quality measures. Larger providers with more resources would find it easier to invest in the type of tracking needed to do this.
While the acceptance of emerging technology by both health professionals and older adults is on the rise, cost-cutting within the industry will likely fuel more interest in handheld medicine in 2016, while simultaneously fulfilling the public’s desire for instant communication, monitoring, diagnosis and treatment.
This means patients will increasingly be able to recover and age where they prefer – in their home. But many patients will still need assistance when it comes to using these devices as part of their daily care and routine. Home care providers will play an increasing role in the in-home healthcare services, as technology and cost-saving measures allow greater numbers of seniors to remain outside of institutional care facilities.
Big Data Comes to Home Care
Big data has made significant inroads in a number of industries. However, it has yet to make much of a mark in health care, due to the challenge of converting large and diverse databases into practical insights.
PwC forecasts that the industry will begin to embrace big data in 2016 through the use of “non-relational databases,” making it easier to analyze many forms of data simultaneously. Such databases are already being used by the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute with the goal of personalizing treatment and advancing medical knowledge.
Home care providers will have access to a significant amount of data that they can use to aid health care professionals when it comes to identifying future health risks. Providers can also use this data to identify the signs of a patient who isn’t managing a chronic condition effectively. For example, the authors of an article in the journal Health Affairs believe healthcare providers could use data collected from patients’ smartphones to look for signs of depression or isolation – a common factor in hospital readmissions.