5 Major Emerging Trends in the Healthcare Industry

The healthcare sector has been growing steadily as the demand for specialized physicians and practices continues to expand. Companies in the medical industry are starting up all over, and current trends promise further big changes for professionals in the healthcare business.

Here are some of the likely developments in the near future.

1. Solutions to Nursing Shortages

There’s a fairly broad nursing shortage in hospitals right now. It’s difficult for medical centers to remain fully staffed because many nurses have opted to work at slower-paced clinics and rehabilitation homes.

In addition, issues with expired certifications or incompetence at the hospital level that has sent administrations scrambling for alternative solutions. In response, hospitals have begun to “grow their own” specialty-care registered nurses.

Many hospitals are instituting a residency program that helps nurses in their final stages of certification or those freshly graduated to get a start in the workforce. Large medical institutions have found that when they offer hands-on training and pay for further education, they’re more likely to generate a pool of qualified and competent nursing professionals.

Providing opportunities for further, specialized education and work experience have rendered solid results for hospital financing and qualifications. Findings from studies of such projects indicate that large operations are saving an average of $1 million per year in contract labor costs and employee turnover.

2. Fewer Resources for Physicians

Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has begun cracking down on eligibility policies, which has greatly affected the resources available to physicians. Eligible doctors have begun to see reductions in reimbursements for noncompliance with a variety of CMS programs.

This is the result of major compliance problems in the past. HIPAA compliance issues, for example, are costing medical organizations millions each year.

It’s against the law to divulge medical information, but mistakes happen all the time. CMS and other organizations have begun to enforce penalties for noncompliance. This is forcing healthcare organizations to consider their policies more carefully in order to avoid legal problems.

3. Incredible Technological Advancements

Working conditions are changing in healthcare, primarily for the better, thanks to technology. Wearable tracking devices, patient-centered care, increased data demands, new life-saving devices, and more are coming on line to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare. Online physicians’ services are also gaining steam.

Technology also has its negative effects. It increases the risks of exposure where sensitive information is concerned, for one thing. As mentioned previously, HIPAA violations are common, and much of the reason is due to constant interconnectedness.

Patient privacy and security entails new risks in the form of malware, hackers, and viruses. It’s much more difficult to stay out of legal trouble with these sorts of privacy threats in play.

4. Financial Viability

Healthcare CEOs are extremely concerned about financial viability. Their apprehension may be warranted, since they have to deal with new CMS rulings, patient satisfaction and quality scores, population health management, and personnel shortages.

The possible light at the end of the tunnel? Spending has fallen significantly for the healthcare sector. The U.S. increased spending by only 3.6 percent between 2012 and 2015, which is pretty good considering the inflation during that period.

The strain on many organizations’ bottom line has pressured administrators to tighten the purse strings. Finances continue to be a major concern, but this is one area where healthcare organizations are managing to adapt.

5. Risk Toleration

Though toleration of various risks seems like one of the last things the medical industry should have to live with, it’s taking greater precedence in this market. Organizations are implementing greater risk strategies in order to mitigate data leaks.

Payment risks are rising as well. Government payouts are being reduced, which puts large medical organizations at greater risk. Public hospitals are in particular danger, since they are where most Medicare and Medicaid patients go.

Hospital administrators will have to learn to handle risk more effectively in order to avoid the heat from these shifting trends.

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Written by:
Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. When she isn't writing, she's outside on her bike and contemplating her eventual trip to graduate school. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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