( ENSPIRE Health & Wellness ) Top 5 Healthcare Trends in 2022
Each year produces new trends in healthcare, and with the impact of technology today, things are changing more rapidly than ever before. In just the last few years we’ve seen significant changes in everything from how care is administered, to what options patients have to monitor themselves, and even the ways in which healthcare providers manage data. And even these broad, general examples barely scratch the surface.
With all of this in mind, here’s a look at five trends we expect to see taking root over the course of the current year.
1. More Virtual Care
Virtual care and telehealth were existing concepts that became vital solutions in the early days of the pandemic –– and are here to stay. According to eMarketer, the majority of consumers who used telehealth in 2021 will probably use it again in 2022. Given that pandemic restrictions have eased considerably, this indicates that people are open to using telehealth as a preference, rather than out of necessity. When patients are able to receive medical consultation remotely, they are kept safe from potential exposure to disease –– but they also enjoy greater convenience and a lot of time saved.
Of course, virtual care is largely limited to minor medical situations and routine checkups. For emergency situations and major surgeries, patients will still need to seek in-person care moving forward.
2. Data-Driven Virtual Care
Advances in technology have led to massive accumulation of patient information, which healthcare providers are by and large still working out what to do with. In 2021, telehealth support platform Wheel predicted that over the course of the year we would see providers integrating data more effectively. That means, in part, optimizing patient data to streamline services and make everything more efficient. Now, it stands to reason that this improvement in the use of data will continue alongside a virtual health movement coming into its own. To give one example, we are likely to see more and more ways for remote patient monitoring to feed into diagnostics such that data drives care plans and solutions.
Self-care is a broad category, but in an overarching sense it’s something that has become increasingly normalized –– in part thanks to the pandemic (which taught us all that we need to take care of ourselves a bit more), but also because of countless inspiring voices supporting the notion of addressing personal wellness. This is something that was touched on in a previous article here, wherein lifestyle coach Orlandina Balan shared her wholistic approach to becoming a woman warrior. Balan pointed out that self-care goes beyond being strong or looking good; it is a lifestyle that comes in six different forms: emotional, physical, social, practical, mental, and spiritual.
Different people take different approaches to self-care, but that list speaks to how many different ways there are to address personal wellbeing. This is certainly an aspect of healthcare that is getting more emphasis by the day, and will continue to do so throughout the year.
4. Digitization of Specialties
Some specialty healthcare appointments can now be made via telehealth as well. For example, pathologists usually analyze slides by looking through microscopes –– but now, digital images of the patient can be taken remotely and viewed on a large screen. Radiologists have adopted more or less the same method of digitizing medical images and sharing them, thus easily transmitting scans whenever necessary. That can mean sending an image off for a second opinion from a specialist; it can also mean easily sharing a patient’s diagnosis over a virtual network. Because these changes essentially amount to pure efficiency and convenience, we’re only going to see more like them.
5. Advanced Precision Medicine
It is also essential to mention the emergence of precision medicine. This method combines genetic testing with wireless-enabled wearable technology, like Fitbits, to monitor vital signs. For example, a patient wearing a Fitbit around their wrist can have their heart rate, blood oxygen levels, and sleeping patterns measured and recorded. The resulting data is then analyzed, enabling healthcare providers to study the patient’s needs and customize treatment or medication that best suits the patient. This method has been found to be very effective in everything from treating cancer patients undergoing immunotherapy to forming medication plans for cystic fibrosis patients with gene mutations.
There will as always be new trends in healthcare we don’t see coming, as well. Given how various aspects of healthcare have been evolving of late though, the changes and improvements discussed above look to be among the surest bets for the next year or so.