Healthcare is changing—that’s no secret. But what does the future of healthcare look like? Not just tomorrow, or next year, but far into the future? What developments are changing the way hospitals treat patients, and perhaps more importantly, how will hospitals charge for these services?
Value-Based and Non-Acute Care
Various reports believe that the top two ways that healthcare systems will continue to evolve are in value-based care, and non-acute care.
Value-based care, as we’ve written about in the past, is essentially flipping the current healthcare model on its head. From more affordable virtual doctor visits to the newer doctor on retainer model, the way hospitals earn their money is going to continue changing. And as patients—especially with new insurance—shop their healthcare needs around, hospitals are going to need to showcase better outcomes, and have data to back them up.
Trends also see hospitals not investing as heavily in their large, brick-and-mortar buildings anymore, but focusing more on purchasing smaller, clinical buildings. This is for several reasons. First, hospitals are where caregivers see their sickest patients. And other than for large, serious illnesses or procedures, they may never see these patients again. Second, by building a vertical integration, healthcare systems are able to get patients into their system at the base level for the simplest and most treatable of illnesses, build trust, and move them up if and when the time comes. Patients get a simple, easy visit to the doctor when it’s most convenient, and hospitals capture a returning patient.
Data and Analytics
Of course, showing and proving these higher outcomes can’t happen unless hospitals begin to track and capture better data. By implementing not only the hospital’s own information but also electronic medical records (and perhaps even health wearables like FitBits or smartphone apps), doctors can better treat their patients. More than that, though, hospitals can learn more about their patients, and build strategies based on the collected data. In one of the most successful strategies seen to date, Geisinger Health System is using their data to put an emphasis on preventive care and reduce unnecessary care.
In-Home and Online
With these new trends, we may also see a departure from the large, multi-bed hospitals. With a higher focus on preventive care, doctors may move back to making house calls. Part of some of the more successful strategies using data and analytics also includes engaging with the patient and their family. By bringing care into homes, schools, or more familiar places, healthcare systems may be able to reduce their costs while increasing profits. Other tools, like online and virtual doctor visits, may require special technology to start, but after an initial investment should pay for itself after successful implementation.
As these new strategies continue to change the way our healthcare system looks, a focus on engaging patients about their payment responsibilities will become more important than ever. Evolution of healthcare is natural, but it’s imperative that a hospital receive proper payment for any services rendered—whether online, at home, or in the hospital.