Top 10 healthcare trends expected to take 2023 by storm

Rachel Marley, MSc

Contributor at HealthcareTransformers.com

Top 10 healthcare trends expected to take 2023 by storm

23 November 2022 | 10min

Quick Takes

  • As the healthcare industry continues to evolve, healthcare leaders need to understand the latest trends and how to implement them into their organizations

  • Healthcare technologies that executives should critically evaluate over the next year include artificial intelligence, medical robotics, and blockchain

  • Investments in solutions that address mental health, staff shortages, and healthcare inequalities can help leaders differentiate themselves from the competition

Healthcare is continuously evolving — from the widespread adoption of new technologies like health wearables and medical robotics to the ever-changing landscape of regulatory approvals. As a result, healthcare leaders need to be aware of the latest trends in the industry to stay ahead of the competition. By doing so, they can identify what opportunities their organizations need to implement to grow their businesses and improve the delivery of care to patients and employee well-being. 

From artificial intelligence to social determinants of health, we compiled the top 10 healthcare trends that could significantly impact the healthcare industry in 2023.

1. Increasing patient engagement by improving the patient experience

As mobile technologies progress, patients have become more savvy and proactive regarding self-care. Today, patients and providers are working together, transforming the healthcare industry by taking a “proactive” approach to care rather than a “reactive” one. Patient engagement and self-advocacy can lead to better clinical outcomes and improved quality of life.1 To that end, healthcare leaders should ensure that each patient journey is personalized without barriers or hurdles so individuals can remain engaged in their care.

By 2030, the market size of patient engagement solutions – which includes wearables, educational resources, and mobile apps – is estimated to reach $USD 74.28 billion, up from $USD 13.42 billion in 2021.2 

To increase patient engagement, the top priority for health organizations is improving the patient experience. Reducing friction points by simplifying processes has been common for many businesses, especially in consumer retail. Healthcare providers need to consider this and understand that patients are customers who can easily defect to competitors if experiences are not reliable, transparent, and easy to navigate.

To improve patient needs, some factors that healthcare leaders need to consider to enhance patient engagement include:

  • Ease of access to patient data experience
  • The patient’s digital experience 
  • Administrative efficiency
  • Building in the human connection
  • Recognizing the importance of work culture

2. Transforming healthcare with artificial intelligence (AI)

AI is one of those healthcare trends that has the potential to significantly impact the industry – from improving patient care with data-driven clinical decision-making to streamlining healthcare system workflows. In general, most experts understand that AI in healthcare needs to be human-centered, taking into consideration the needs of patients and personnel. 

AI can impact multiple healthcare areas, including:

  • Improving patient care
  • Enabling physicians to simultaneously enhance their work performance while improving work/life balance
  • Supporting healthcare institutions to deliver quality care while optimizing resources

One precaution for healthcare leaders is the occurrence of AI bias in healthcare, which can happen during the early stages of algorithm development. AI bias is complex, but can stem from the algorithm creators’ selection of data or how results are applied, causing the algorithm to reflect human biases. Diversity and the inclusion of minorities and underrepresented populations need to be incorporated when creating AI-based algorithms. 

Additionally, as regulatory agencies become more involved in AI development, leaders need to know how to navigate the changing landscape of patient privacy and algorithm transparency.

3. Adopting robotics in healthcare

A relatively new field we are seeing in healthcare trends is the introduction and adoption of robotics in healthcare. Medical robotics has the capability to reduce workload in the healthcare industry. Through automation and AI, these machines can perform a range of tasks and support services – from facilitating the transport of patients and assisting in surgeries to delivering vaccines in remote areas.3 

In Japan, robots are helping nurses and healthcare workers in reception areas or guidance of patients to specific rooms within the hospital.4 Within nursing homes, robots are performing numerous services, including monitoring falls or assistance needs, moving individuals, delivering goods, and communicating to provide comfort.5 This adoption of robotics in assisted-living situations has the potential to reduce turnover among long-term healthcare personnel.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic increased the need for better sterilization methods that were efficient and safe to help prevent disease transmission. To address this concern, healthcare systems looked to incorporate ultraviolet “C” light (UV-C) autonomous disinfection robots into hospitals and other clinical settings.6,7 By doing so, providers are ensuring that medical personnel and patients are better protected against the spread of infectious diseases.

Within the medical robotics sector, another promising area for improving health systems is using unmanned aerial vehicles or drones. In 2021, the global commercial drone market size was valued at $USD 6.51 billion and is expected to grow to $USD 47.38 billion by 2029.8 

Over half of the world’s population lack access to essential health services, and 100 million people worldwide experience extreme poverty due to health expenses.9 By safely, rapidly, and efficiently delivering medications, diagnostics, and medical samples to and from remote regions, drones offer a cost-effective means of improving outcomes, especially in remote, underserved communities like low- and middle-income countries.10

Drone industry expert Bill Wimberley, Head of Business Development, WINGCOPTER GmbH highlights five use cases for drones that are going to transform and improve healthcare:

  • Blood product and hazardous material transportation
  • Vaccine and medicine delivery
  • Diagnostics
  • Organ transfers
  • Transport of small medical devices

4. Investing in mental health

Mental health continues to be one of the biggest healthcare megatrends, becoming significantly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic when vast numbers of people experienced isolated living situations or loss of a job. At the same time, mental health services were severely disrupted. As a result, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by 25% during this period, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).11 To help promote support and strengthen leadership for mental health, WHO created its Comprehensive Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2030 to help improve mental health services.12

Investment in digital mental health solutions is on the rise.13 Some technological platforms enable more access to mental health services and connect patients with mental health providers. Through telehealth, on-demand, anytime therapy right from your mobile phone is now a possibility.

Here are five critical tactics for digital mental health solution providers from Sangit Rawlley,

cofounder of Aiberry:

  • Differentiate your solution
  • Provide evidence-based outcomes for your solution
  • Make it easy to adopt 
  • Offer a holistic solution focused on convenience 
  • Engage early with stakeholders

5. Monitoring health through wearable technology

Adopting wearable healthcare technologies is one of the trends taking the healthcare industry by storm as we see a steadily increasing as individuals take their health into their own hands. Continuous health monitoring through health wearables enables personalized, data-driven care where the clinician and patient take a “proactive” rather than “reactive” approach. In addition, digital health software applications and sophisticated hardware provide individualized vital data and biomarkers and play a critical role in disease prevention.

For example, studies have illustrated the utility of wearables for exercise, cardiovascular health, and mental health.14,15 Furthermore, wearable devices, mobile technologies, and medical wireless biosensors can be used for clinical trials to obtain real-time data when enrolled subjects are at home, potentially leading to better patient engagement and clinical outcomes.16 As individuals become more tech-savvy and health wearables become more commonplace, healthcare executives will need to understand how to incorporate these technologies into their organizations.

6. Addressing staffing shortages, clinical burnout, and employee retention

Retirement, burnout, and employee retention are three significant issues causing staff shortages in the healthcare industry. These challenges became more apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic when an estimated 1 in 5 healthcare workers decided to leave the force.17 The WHO estimates we will need a further 18 million healthcare workers to achieve universal healthcare by 2030 and additional 9.9 million nurses and midwives to meet global targets.18 With aging demographics shifting globally and individuals living longer, workers will be a necessity to help with long-term care.

Leadership teams can attract and retain staff by encouraging flexibility in clinical workflow and caregiver leave, adopting innovations in the digital care space, providing an ergonomically friendly environment, and establishing new roles. In addition, as the healthcare industry continues evolving with technological advances, healthcare executives need to adopt new, balanced recruitment and retention strategies so personnel can provide patients with the highest quality of care.

As a global issue, this is one of those trends which is on everybody in the healthcare industry’s radar as we search for a solution for staff shortages.

7. Boosting cloud technology

Cloud computing is becoming increasingly available to patients and personnel in the healthcare industry. By leveraging remotely-available data, physicians and patients can easily and rapidly access historical and recent clinical results in a single platform. In addition, as electronic health records become more widely used, cloud technology will become more cost-effective and secure and create new opportunities for big data software.19

Cloud technologies offer personnel a scalable way to provide optimized patient care and allow patients to take a proactive approach to their health.20 However, leaders must be aware of potential barriers to cloud technologies, including data migration costs, cultural shifts, security compliance, and interoperability standards and regulations.21

The healthcare cloud computing market is expected to dramatically increase over the next ten years from $USD 26.5 billion to $USD 66.3 billion.22

8. Increasing utilization of telehealth systems

While telehealth has been around for many years, the pandemic put it into the spotlight as patients were increasingly hesitant to do in-person visits and shortages in healthcare personnel increased in every nation. As a result, we are seeing telehealth also appear on many lists when it comes to the top healthcare trends to watch out for.

With limited access to healthcare workers, patients with non-emergency conditions can gain access to their providers quicker and more affordably than traditional visits through remote, live-video appointments using their computers or mobile phones. Additionally, telehealth systems allow patients to directly message their providers and organizations with concerns ranging from prescription changes to insurance questions. It also enables patients quick access to health education.23,24 

Furthermore, telehealth systems allow for the integration of information from multiple patient visits and test results into electronic health records, making it easier to have an entire patient’s history in one app. When linked to data from health wearables, telehealth also enables patients to remain engaged and proactive in their care, which is especially crucial for chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease and high blood pressure.25,26

As telehealth systems expand, leadership teams need to ensure safe, reliable, and equitable access across different population subgroups, particularly in rural settings and for individuals with disabilities. 27,28

A seamless user experience in telehealth systems can be an important differentiator for many healthcare organizations. Due to its convenience and easy access to care, telehealth is here to stay.

9. Ensuring data privacy and security

As cloud computing and telehealth systems become more widespread, data privacy and security become a top priority for healthcare leaders to ensure that data from patients and personnel remain protected. 

To that end, blockchain technologies are widely discussed amongst many healthcare organizations as a potential method to ensure data protection.29-32 Briefly, blockchain is a peer-to-peer decentralized distributed ledger technology that makes the records of any digital asset transactional but also transparent, authenticated, and unchangeable. Furthermore, by using cryptographic access keys, blockchain can afford patients a means to enable the sharing and monetizing of their patient-level data without compromising privacy. Overall, blockchain can improve the efficiency of workflow processes in many health systems.33,34

Data protection continues to be an evolving landscape. With every new technological advance that mines large amounts of data comes new challenges in finding solutions to keep that data safe. To strengthen patient trust, companies must incorporate data privacy and security plans as they continue to find novel ways to maximize patient data.

10. Focusing on healthcare inequalities with social determinants of health (SDOH)

Social determinants of health (SDOH) are environmental conditions where individuals are born, live, and worship, which affect a broad range of health, quality-of-life outcomes, and medical-related risks.35 SDOH contributes to wide health disparities and inequities, impacting the well-being of individuals, especially those with limited access to safe and healthy options. 

Some examples of SDOH include:36

  • Income and social protection
  • Education
  • Unemployment and job insecurity
  • Working life conditions
  • Food insecurity
  • Housing, basic amenities, and the environment
  • Early childhood development
  • Social inclusion and non-discrimination
  • Structural conflict
  • Access to affordable health services of decent quality

Agencies like WHO, the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, and the Centers for Disease Control have launched healthcare programs and initiatives to address the challenges of SDOH.36-38 Additionally, with the COVID-19 pandemic, SDOH has become even more apparent in low- and middle-income communities. Through data-driven programs, healthcare leaders are developing novel software technologies or implementing SDOH-focused strategies in their companies to help address the challenges of SDOH among their patients and their personnel.

Top 10 healthcare trends for 2023

Shaping the future of healthcare

Advanced technologies such as AI, cloud computing, robotics, wearables, and telehealth systems are just a few key trends that are taking the healthcare industry by storm. Because of this, healthcare leaders must find ways to ensure each patient’s journey is secure, personalized, easy to navigate, and empowering. Furthermore, mental health, worker needs, and healthcare inequalities are other areas that healthcare leaders should consider in 2023.

As we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry is constantly changing. By highlighting the rapidly advancing areas and key trends in the healthcare industry, leaders can identify which sectors they need to focus on and invest in that can bring significant value to their organizations.

Rachel Marley, MSc is a contributor and editor at Healthcaretransformers.com. She is dedicated to delivering high-quality content on the topic of the future of healthcare to our readers.

References

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