Health Care Trends 2014

Part 1 Trend of Trends ?

Just like you, I have been surprised in the past weeks of 2014 by all kind of blogs telling me what the trends in development of health care for 2014 will be.
Are they worthwhile to read, to watch, to be warned about?

I couldn’t tell. Some were well conceived and inspired. Others seem more like a promotional message in disguise than a valued opinion about how innovation in healthcare will continue or will be properly restrained. Who will tell? Should we bother about them?

I came across all suggestions about health trends in 2014 first by @Berci (here) and Charlene Li (here). Next, I wondered what the most common perceived trends would be. I searched on health trends for 2014. See the annotated lists below. Ripe and unripe.

To my disappointment however, most of the developments mentioned don’t deserve to be named as trends. It should be a certain development over a longer period of time. (see Wikipedia, ). They can only be named in hindsight.  Anything may happen still. Rather, the ones given represent subjective views on observed developments as potential trend.
Anyone observer may suggest trends. Predicting these is not necessarily a token of insight knowledge. The more so while arguments to substantiate the prediction are not been given much. Just a pick of one’s brain.

Why not  review them and give my own opinion, I thought. I waited a few weeks to half of February to have an overview that gave me a foundation. I reviewed all that I came across. I built my educated guess and now nominate the following developments as the ones that will have the highest impact on heath care developments in (the remaining of) 2014, in my opinion, that is:

  1. Financial concerns. Not just by changing health laws in the US, but all governments around the world do have substantial concerns about how to pay for rising costs of care. Reimbursement schemes will change. Developments like “Accountable Care”, pay-for-performance schemes, population health costs, etc., have and will gain more interests from payers and other protagonists. Also, health institutions and entrepreneurs will look for new routes of financing their health business. It is expected that venture capitalists will play a larger role in the health market too. ¨To pay for one’s care has come to be recognized as the price I pay for purchasing care… Hence consumers of care, patients, will question their payments and will ask for accountability and transparency, increasingly. ¨Besides, it is also said that consumers are getting quite aware of the problem they envision when they come of age and might be confronted with the need of personal assistance, for which they could be unable to pay. Will cost concerns go beyond quality of care? It will be no wonder if they do;
  2. Patient Empowerment. Already for years to grow, patients are now in the position to take active stance to what they want for their care, and see and evaluate the personal care that is provided. Actively searching for and getting their info about their specific health conditions by the internet, they don’t take a professional’s opinion for granted. They want to be actively involved, be explained and want to be given a choice. Not only for the actual care they get, but also for the costs it takes. “Costs”, meaning both money and personal effort to get their care. Doctors already get accustomed to this attitude and (begin to) adapt their consulting behavior to it. It is even noted that we may face a wave of burnout due to overworked doctors, whose opinions will be sought after more, through means of easy access through the internet;
  3. Connected Health, eHealth. Heavily addressed developments like wearable tech in health, mobile devices and immanent information exchange and communication, Personal Health Records, daily monitoring of fitness, devices at home for distant diagnostics and information, consult and support – they will seriously disrupt traditional ways of health care as we know it. Providers of care and the health industry will become more aware that mobile devices and apps have quickly produced a giant realm of opportunities for patients to use. Almost incalculable, they do produce the obvious need of being connected and that forthcoming data be brought home in a simple insightful, but integrated manner both to patients and their caregivers. “Integrated”, as in combined all together, showing a clear and understandable meaning to the user(s). eHealth is the term for that, specifically while it refers too to the resulting need to enable exchange of information between patient and caregivers upon the data, thus facilitating support and discussion about their meaning and what to do with it: self management in participating ways. So, it is good to notice that the “digital native” generation is coming to a professional age. Moreover: with the means of connected data, the leap to big data has already been made. Experiments demonstrate potential, but it is still a long way to go to facilitate personal decision-making, personalized care or medication. Still, a needed development to stay;
  4. Redefining the Health Industry. As a result of immanent changes to health care (“under  disruption”),  the health industry is confronted with a changing market place in a way the industry hasn’t encountered before. The pharma and devices industry gets heavily challenged on its resilience to change: ROI and prices under pressure, more difficulties in access to markets for new products, questions about integrity, being confronted with new stakeholders, cry outs for value based offerings, structural changes to their Research and Development routines, heavily competition, and new communication channels – it all creates the need to redefine both business (“what business are we in”) and business models (“how do we get paid”). No easy way out. As providers of care seek cooperation, the industry has to go along. But what, if even their innovative drugs and devices are not seen as such any more, due to pricing and costs concerns? Let’s hope it is not too late for this redefinition to start;
  5. Data Security. The world is not only connected but everything is recorded too, and with that, anyone likes access to that information, or better still: there are enormous interests in their insights. Cloud and big data developments and access to all, enforces high alert to data safety and privacy to owners – even if not all legal contexts haven’t defined who owns the data in certain cases. Combined with “big data” developments, it confronts CIO’s with possible nightmares.

Of course, as indicated, I am opportunistic too in my selection of these potential trends. But, in any case further change is coming upon us. We are surely under disruption.
Still it is a frustrating conclusion. So, it doesn’t seem like the final one.
I wanted to figure out where this would lead to: most possibly to a highly fragmented, maybe even chaotic field of care different from place to place, possibly with diverse qualities and perhaps only slightly transparent to patients. Is this what health care has to accept, even as difficult it is for those in care to cope with the challenges these developments pose to them? Should we lean back and let it go on?
Not so. I suggest a different perspective: Having noticed these developments, What should be the health care trend of 2014? There is a better way to approach these changes, a way that will lead us all to a constructive response to disruption.

See part 2. What should be the trend of health care development in 2014


 List of blogs presenting health care trends for 2014, in specific order:

– Berthoplan Meski, Science Roll, @Berci
– Charlene Li, Altimeter,
– PWC (US),
– Forbes,
– USA today
– Hospital Impact,
– Accenture,
– Mashable,
– Information week Healthcare,
– Deloitte
– FierceHealthFinance 2014
– MedCityNews
– FoxBusiness
– The Health Care Trend institute
– Wall Street Journal here :
– HealthIT security
– HITconsultant    and:   and: