Perhaps the most important industry that exists is healthcare. Healthcare, by and large, is what determines whether a person lives a quality life free of pain or not. In certain circumstances, healthcare determines if a person lives or dies. Healthcare is something that has evolved over centuries from the folk remedies of ancient times up to the cutting edge technology doctors and surgeons use today to save lives.
Healthcare is also a huge industry that employs one in eight Americans. It’s a high tech industry that is always changing. As Forbes reported, the healthcare industry has grown to become a $3 trillion a year industry.
However, where is healthcare as an industry headed in the future? Here’s an overview of a few of the future paths the healthcare industry is likely to take.
Healthcare Will Become More of an IT Business
Information technology has transformed pretty much every business in existence. Ecommerce alone has grown to almost $2 trillion in market value. One of the biggest changes has been mobile internet that allows people to connect from anywhere. The “internet of things” has also been a big trend in which devices other than computers connect to the internet to share information.
Mobile internet and the internet of things will both soon be applied to healthcare on a wide scale. This includes remote medical monitoring. This will be done through the wearing of medical devices by patients with specific chronic conditions. The devices will feed a constant stream of data to a healthcare enterprise regarding that patient’s health status. If something goes wrong, the patient’s doctors will know. This could lessen the need for nursing homes in the United States which currently house 1.3 million patients at a cost of $83,000 per year per patient.
With the combination of remote medical monitoring devices and teleconferencing, doctor’s visits may also be able to be performed remotely as well. This will slash costs and increase the efficiency of the healthcare system significantly.
Healthcare Will Become a More Personalized Business
For a long time, healthcare has centered on large swaths of people with similar conditions that require similar medications and similar treatment plans. However, as the science and technology behind healthcare improves, the entire industry will become even more centered on the patient as an individual.
Part of this will be the result of medical science breakthroughs. Due to the cracking of the human genome, doctors will soon be able to learn far more about an individual person’s genetic predispositions in regards to his or her health. This will lead to far more personalized treatment and even completely personalized medicine. Different healthcare industries such as pharmaceuticals will have to evolve to keep up.
The second component of this personalization of healthcare is big data. Thanks to big data platforms, far more information about a patient’s medical history will be able to be recorded and preserved in a digital format. These electronic medical records will then be able to be easily transferred from doctor to doctor through the use of cloud computing. Doctors will be better informed about a patient and be able to provide more personalized care as a result.
Health Insurance Will Change
Another certainty regarding healthcare as a business is that the health insurance industry is going to go through some significant evolutions in the near future. “Obamacare” as it exists now is unsustainable, and many insurers are pulling out of government run healthcare markets. Republicans have also promised to repeal and replace the law.
The insurance industry is going to have to adapt to a lot of change. Overall, more customer friendly policies such as free insurance quotes and lower premiums may be required to avoid the government someday taking over the system entirely to institute a single payer healthcare system.
Healthcare is an industry centered on progress. As science and technology improves, so does healthcare. As healthcare improves, so do the lives of people. Whatever changes may be in store for healthcare as a business, it should stay centered on the goal of improving people’s lives for the better.