Category: Thoughts

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Cost-Saving Ideas for the Future of American Healthcare

Healthcare in the United States is presently facing turmoil and uncertainty. As Donald Trump and the Republican Party attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act—nicknamed ‘Obamacare’—those in need of health care in the country are left with many questions. What will replace Obamacare? How will access to the healthcare system change? What will the cost be to individuals? Moreover, how will this supposed healthcare reform impact the healthcare industry financially?

While some of these burning questions will remain unanswered for some time, what we can ascertain is that there are many ways the healthcare industry can cut costs to become more effective and save money in these turbulent times. Here are some small but significant ways for the healthcare industry to save money:

  1. Reduce use of anesthesia providers: According to RAND Health, roughly USD 1.3 billion was spent on anesthesia providers during gastrointestinal procedures in 2009. However, only roughly USD 0.2 billion was spent on high-risk patients. Reducing anesthesia use and anesthesia providers for low-risk patients could potentially save over USD 1 billion dollars.
  2. Adopt ultrasound guidance: Using ultrasound guidance for central line placement helps to avoid catheter complications and errors during insertion. According to RAND, reducing errors can result in savings of over USD 50 million.
  3. Modernize communications equipment: Too many hospitals and doctors’ offices are still using outdated technology such as fax machines and early-2000s scanners. Modernizing equipment will allow for faster and more effective communication between staff and patients and between healthcare providers. Modern, high-quality equipment will also have greater compliance with digitized medical records and will eliminate many repair costs.
  4. Ensure as many patients as possible have health insurance: If Trump’s mysterious new plan (Trumpcare?) is in any way similar to Obamacare, as many speculate that it could be, ensuring high enrolment numbers is essential to keeping costs down for a large number of people.
  5. Increase diagnostic efficiency: Adopting more effective and advanced diagnostic methods, techniques, and machinery will allow healthcare providers to make diagnoses with greater accuracy. Reducing misdiagnoses and allowing more patients to receive the right treatment will save money in the long term.
  6. Encourage use of generic drugs: Policies encouraging the use of less expensive generic drugs will benefit the patients and the healthcare system as a whole, resulting in cost savings and increased and more affordable access to necessary treatment.
  7. Increase regular inspections of healthcare facilities: Inspecting healthcare facilities on a regular basis and ensuring that they are adhering to regulation, law, and the health code will promote trust between facilities and patients. Such inspections will go a long way to protect the public, resulting in greater patient retention and the number of patients who are choosing to opt in for healthcare.
  8. Reduce risk of HAI: According to the CDC, there were 721,800 cases of hospital-associated infection (HAI) in 2011. Patients undergoing central line, catheter, or ventilator related treatments are often at risk for infection. Preventing infection by increasing hand hygiene, barrier precautions, and antibiotic use, amongst other things, will result in significant cost savings for the industry.
  9. Increase preventative measures for patients: Increasing preventative procedures and exams, such as colonoscopies and mammograms, will save money in the long term by working to prevent serious cancers and other diseases that require intensive and expensive treatment.
  10. Price and quality transparency: According to Fortune, market competition can work to control healthcare costs just as it works to control costs in other industries. Hospitals and other healthcare providers being transparent about their costs will create competition, encouraging hospitals to improve and strive to meet patient needs. It will also save patients money as they will be able to select the most affordable treatment and hospital for themselves.

 

In the coming days and weeks, we can expect to see where Donald Trump intends to take the future of the US healthcare system and whether or not his proposed healthcare reform will implement cost saving ideas for the healthcare industry and patients alike. Hopefully, healthcare providers in the US will be able to benefit, reduce costs, and work towards more effective treatment and a healthier population.

 

 

 

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Navigating Through the Future of Medical Devices – A Webinar Addressing the Critical Issues Faced by Medical Device Manufacturers in 2017

A key strategy to stay ahead of the curve in today’s dynamic medical device market is to become “agile innovators.” Medical device companies that adapt to these trends will find enormous opportunities to grow and thrive.

 

The process of introducing medical devices to markets across the globe can be complex, requiring an understanding of premarket preparation, and approval to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Furthermore, with the advent of various micro and macro trends such as enhanced buying power of payers or providers, complex regulatory scrutiny, and the introduction of new healthcare delivery models, medical device manufacturers have been struggling captureto develop effective market entry strategies. Recently, for instance, the industry’s key influencers have sounded upbeat about the Republican Congress and the new Trump administration during recent interactions with analysts. And while there are many open questions, top executives insist that the potential repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act may not have a massive impact on the sales volumes of medical devices across certain regions.

Our medical device industry experts feel that a key to dealing with the dynamism of the medical devices industry is “becoming agile innovators.” With the payers’ increasing focus on value-based reimbursement and health systems’ continuing interest in outpatient services and home care services, the landscape for the healthcare industry will likely through a massive change. “Medical device companies that adapt to these trends will find enormous opportunities to grow and thrive,” says Vivek Sikaria, AVP: Market Intelligence and Advisory at Infiniti Research.

In the upcoming webinar, which includes 15 minutes of live Q&A session, on how to navigate through the future of medical devices, our speakers will focus on how the lower probability to earning premium margins by merely selling standard clinical features and new devices into existing market spaces would create significant pressure for strategy experts to identify new markets to sell their solutions. The identification of such segments or open markets where they can sell their end-to-end solutions, will help decision makers secure additional revenue and maintain market shares. Also, considering the uncertainties associated with the future landscape, our experts decided to review it closely and offer guidance on the ways to deal with market realities.

Want some more reasons to join us for this 45-minute webinar? Here’s an insight into the top four questions that our speakers will address:

 

  • What parameters should you consider while assessing demand across new markets?
  • How to accurately predict demand for your new medical device product or technology?
  • Traditional models of market estimation V/s the best practices. Which is better?
  • How to track the market performance of emerging medical devices or technologies?

 

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Emergency Life Sciences

Emergency Life Sciences: Trends and Players

The global landscape of life sciences has grown increasingly dynamic and competitive over the years. When it comes to emergency life sciences and management solutions, the focus has been on establishing systems and solutions that are proactive and can reduce the number of easily avoidable deaths and permanent physical damage. The demand for better solutions, in turn, have highlighted the pressing need for highly integrated emergency management systems.

Emergency management systems: components and developments

Emergency communication and physical assistance are two vital aspects of emergency management systems. Most cases end up turning critical due to a lack of communication. For this reason, mobile optimization has become a necessity in the life sciences industry. Several vendors are now using mobile phones as a channel to bring patients, payers, and healthcare providers onto a common platform. Mobile optimization, not only helps to improve patient engagement but also leads to better health outcomes. Apart from mobile phones, voice logger systems are also used extensively.

Some of the advantages of voice logger systems include:

  1. Increased efficiency due to quick and easy call retrieval
  2. Storage of data for future use
  3. Data protection and security

Voice logger systems provide web-based administrative and user consoles so that callers can gain access to call records from any geographic location and on any web browser. The call data is archived for reference purpose. Additionally, most of the data stored on voice logger systems comply with privacy policies and are highly secured.

Emergency location tracking systems, automatic vehicle location tracking, along with active GPS-based tracking will go a long way when it comes to notification of distress calls and provide timely solutions.

Ambulances that are equipped with the latest technology, combined with medical professionals, paramedics, and nursing staff, form the physical assistance portion of emergency management solutions. One major issue with most ambulances is the lack of forethought when it comes to ergonomics, storage space, and equipment. These shortcomings affect the performance of the medical crew, making life-threatening situations difficult to handle. For these reasons, the concept of designing ambulances has been redefined. Ambulances are no longer just vehicles that ferry patients; they have now evolved into ‘hospitals on wheels.’ There have been major developments in the integration of digital diagnostics and communication system. Designers are working on equipping ambulances with improved capabilities and access to specialist advisors to facilitate better outcomes for patients.

In addition to better ambulance design and prototyping, integration of telemedicine and training of paramedical staff are equally important. It is proved that by providing the right on-the-spot treatment, clinical damage, and death can bring down by up to 40%. Along with saving patient lives, intelligent ambulance design brings down the cost of operations and other medical procedures.

Above all, the most crucial part of emergency management systems is providing the proper emergency response services in hospitals. It is critical that hospitals are equipped with staff and infrastructure that is dedicated solely to handling emergency life sciences. Emergency management solutions are incomplete if hospitals are ill-equipped to handle emergency medical needs.

Some of the key players in emergency management solutions include HCL, Cognizant, BVG India Ltd, Infogain and Tech Mahindra.

 

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Healthcare Packaging: Emerging Market Trends in EMEA, APAC, and NA

 

Packaging is important on both the functional and aesthetic levels, and will undoubtedly have a major impact on the future of healthcare as a whole. It has the potential to transform the way patients receive and use medication, and improve the quality and appeal of pharmaceutical products. In this blog, we cover some of the major trends in healthcare packaging by region, looking at both specific materials and general strategies.

EMEA

One trend in the EMEA market is the creation of packaging that encourages patient adherence. Getting patients to take their medication and follow a strict dosage schedule can be challenging, which is why healthcare packaging manufacturers are working on ways to make packaging more informative as well as supportive, through more attractive designs and clearer text. Further, some companies are taking the approach of creating special kits or boxes for patients that transform the medication process into something a bit more “fun” and pleasant.

Another related trend that will continue to become more prevalent in the next several years is personalization. Each patient has individual needs and therefore cannot be grouped by an illness category and treated the same as all other patients. The idea behind personalized packaging is to provide flexibility and ensure that the specific patient requirements are met, and, even more importantly, that the patient feels like they are receiving a truly individualized product. Packaging manufacturers are even seeking ways to create “smart,” tech-oriented packaging that would allow patients to directly communicate with their doctors.

APAC

Given that the APAC region is projected to experience the highest growth rate in the healthcare packaging market between 2016 and 2020, there is a great deal of change and innovation occurring. One major market trend is the emergence of flexible plastic packaging as a replacement for rigid plastic. The benefits of flexible plastic are numerous, and flexible plastic packaging allows companies to meet strict health guidelines, save money, and provide packaging that is far more aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, flexible plastic speaks to the growing sustainability concerns in the region.

Directly related to flexible plastic packaging is another key trend: tube packaging. The demand for tube packaging will continue to increase in the region as a result of urbanization and an increase in disposable income. Tube packaging includes squeeze tubes and laminated tubes, both of which are designed with sustainability and convenience in mind. Additionally, tube packaging is known for its excellent barrier properties, which can protect products during transport and help increase their shelf life.

North America

The North American healthcare market, most notably in the United States, is undergoing serious renovation. One major trend in the healthcare packaging market is the use of glass packaging. Glass packaging is beneficial in some ways: it is 100% recyclable, impermeable and has no chemical interaction with its contents, preventing changes in taste, smell, and chemical makeup. While it may be more of an investment when compared with plastic, glass packaging has long term value, and as healthcare facilities improve, the demand for this type of packaging will continue to increase.

Another important trend in this region is the outsourcing of pharmaceutical packaging, also known as contract packaging. Outsourcing is critical, as it reduces time to market and allows manufacturers to focus on in-house responsibilities and necessities. This trend is being fuelled by the reduction in overhead costs and increased flexibility and will continue into 2020. Further, outsourcing is the most effective way to keep up with the growing healthcare sector and the demand for pharmaceutical products; it would be nearly impossible for manufacturers to try to bear such a heavy burden in-house.

Consolidation of Healthcare Sector

Impact of the Consolidation of the Healthcare Market

In today’s world, consolidation is key. In the past few years, financial institutions, airlines, and even retail department stores have all consolidated and transformed. Now the healthcare industry is going through its transformational phase for the purpose of consolidation.

Technological innovations and noteworthy regulatory changes backed by market dynamics are the key drivers of the rapid consolidation of health systems. Today, hospitals are acquiring not only other hospitals but also insurance business as well as physician practices. Healthcare service is no longer limited to the traditional volume driven, fee-for-service (FFS) system. Rather, the focus is on value-based care (VBC), which demands diversification and innovation on the part of healthcare providers. Most of the consolidation that has been happening in the healthcare market is horizontal in nature –i.e. hospitals acquiring other hospitals.

 

Ways in which consolidation is taking place

The U.S. health system consists of four verticals: large chains, mid-tier systems, Academic Medical Centers (AMCs) and small community health systems. It would be wrong to assume that consolidation of these verticals is a recent phenomenon. All of these groups have undergone consolidation with the aim of broadening their geographical reach, market share, and launching their new service lines.

That being said, the current trend of consolidation is no longer limited to traditional affiliations, collaborations, and joint ventures. As the focus has shifted to value-based care, healthcare systems require better technology and improved capabilities to deliver the best results. Situations like these have led to the consolidation of medical service providers with technical service providers in order to provide the right service at low costs. This is occurring most frequently in cases of large chains.

When it comes to mid-tier healthcare systems, the focus is on consolidation within the region as well as in neighboring market regions. The consolidation is done through the extensive integration of healthcare providers, from the primary level to post-acute care. This kind of consolidation serves two purposes:

  1. Value-based service provided to that particular population
  2. Acquisition of a better share in that particular regional market

Finally, there are AMCs, which tend to consolidate and emerge as specialist health systems dedicated to a specific type of illness.

 

Impact of consolidation

1.Higher prices for healthcare purchasers

Higher prices are perhaps one of the greatest impacts of health care market consolidation. Also, as regulators push for transparency regarding quality and pricing from various health systems, there are greater chances for the emergence of differential payment for higher quality services. At the same time, government payers who are looking for ways in which to decrease prices will pressurize health systems to reduce their costs and manage risks.

Overall, the market is sure to be quite volatile in the beginning. Those healthcare systems that can leverage the market and manage risks are sure to deal with the pressure in an effective manner.

2. Tough atmosphere for small hospitals and insurers

Due to the apparent rise in payment rates, small hospitals will be faced with some challenges, including having to transition to electronic medical records, which is capital intensive. In fact, this transition has resulted in the emergence of contracting models like Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs). Also, there is a trend among younger physicians of wanting to work with large organizations, rather than serve in small hospitals or partner in small practices. This makes it even more difficult for small hospitals to survive.

Small insurers will also find it difficult to continue in this challenging environment, as multi-state employers prefer insurers who can serve their employees throughout the country, rather than just locally.

3. Fostering of competition

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) sees to it that both public and private insurance exchanges create healthy competition so that there is less of a barrier to entry for insurers. This in turn will benefit potential customers.

Apart from the insurers, competition will also be fostered among healthcare systems, which will help purchasers get better value for services. Also, with the enforcement of the anti-trust policy, there is sure to be better pricing for services, as well increased chances of cross-market mergers and reduction in independent practice associations.

With all of this in mind, it is a bit too early to predict the exact outcome of the consolidation of healthcare systems. But with the system undergoing rapid consolidation, it has become even more important for industry stakeholders to consider regulatory scrutiny so that a strategy for the long-term viability of the healthcare system can evolve.

Healthcare Payment

Changing Face of Healthcare Payment Systems

It is a known fact that the healthcare payment system in the United States suffers from a number of shortcomings. Whether in terms of efficiency, cost, or quality of treatment, there has been extreme variability in the way in which health care services have been provided from region to region. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) aims to drastically reform healthcare payment and delivery systems.

Quality has always been a key component in all healthcare payment systems; final payment is usually tied to the achievement of key quality metrics. From the most traditional healthcare payment system, namely the fee-for-service model, healthcare payment models have evolved to be more patient-friendly and less of a financial burden on those paying for healthcare services.

The traditional form of healthcare payment has given way to far better payment models, which include the following:

 Pay-for-Coordination

Unlike the fee-for-service model, the pay-for-coordination system coordinates care between the primary care provider and the specialists. This payment system provides patients and their families with a unified care plan, thereby reducing the cost of expensive tests and other procedures.

Pay-for-Performance

Also known as P4P or value-based reimbursement, the pay-for-performance model is a system wherein the health providers are compensated only if they meet specified metrics for efficiency and quality. P4P ties the reimbursement paid to the physicians directly to the quality of services provided by them. According to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid, accountable care organizations (ACO), bundled payment for care improvement, up-side shared savings programs, downside shared savings programs, and partial/ full capitation are some of the more efficient models of healthcare payment.

Accountable Care Organization (ACO)

ACO consists of all health care providers, from primary care physicians to hospitals and post-acute care facilities. All of these entities agree to collectively take on the responsibility for the quality as well as the total cost of care for patients.

Bundled Payment

Also known as episode-of-care payment, this system reimburses healthcare providers for specific episodes of care such as an inpatient hospital stay. Efficiency and quality of care are encouraged by this payment system, as there is only a set amount of money that can be used to pay for the entire episode of care.

Upside Shared Savings Programs

One of the most common medicare shared savings programs (MSSP), this payment model offers incentives for healthcare providers with respect to a specific patient population. There are downside shared savings programs as well. These programs not only include the gain potential of the upside model, but also cover the downside risk of sharing the excess costs of healthcare delivery between provider and payer. As healthcare providers take far greater risk in this system, the upside opportunity potential is usually greater than most other ‘all-upside’ programs.

Along with the above mentioned healthcare payment systems, partial capitation and global budget have been the latest additions.

In cases of Partial or Full Capitation, patients are assigned per member per month (PMPM) payment based on their age, race, sex, lifestyle, medical history, and benefit design. The payment rates are tied to an expected usage, regardless of the number of times the patient makes visits. Just like the bundled payment models, healthcare providers in this payment system have an incentive to help patients avoid high-cost procedures and tests in order to maximize their compensation. Global Budget, on the other hand, is a payment system that involves the payment of a fixed amount on an annual basis for all types of care provided. This system includes the quality component and limits the rate of increase of healthcare costs.

It is clear that the healthcare payment system has changed a great deal in recent years. These changes have been predominantly positive, as patients and their families no longer have to incur the cost of excess payment for limited services, as was the case in the traditional fee-for-service model.

 

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Evolution of Global Healthcare IT

The healthcare system is no longer limited to traditional treatment methods. In fact, as technology continues to evolve, so does healthcare. Today, what we see at the global level is a synergy of healthcare facilities with information technology leading to the birth of healthcare IT system. The evolution of healthcare system has been phenomenal and is poised to expand further in the upcoming decades.

A move towards simplification

One change that the IT in the healthcare sector has made is a deliberate move towards the simplification of the entire healthcare process. Simplicity has emerged as the new trend, and with the help of real-time IT platforms, patient engagement has improved, so has personalization and transparency when it comes to care. Also, unlike how it was in the past, IT for healthcare now has a flexible exchange of information between the patient, care providers, and health support networks.

Remote patient monitoring

Remote patient monitoring is another thing to look forward to. With the focus being shifted to quality and cost-effective healthcare services, healthcare providers are resorting to technology to monitor vitals such as weight, blood pressure, blood sugar, blood oxygen levels, and heart rate. The information gathered is used by professionals in hospitals, ICUs (intensive care units), primary care centers as well as by centralized off-site case management programs.

Remote patient monitoring assists in:

  • Easy access to healthcare
  • Improved patient outcome
  • Cost-effective healthcare solutions

A step towards better disease management

Chronic diseases like blood sugar, blood pressure, arthritis, and cardiovascular problems require regular care and management. With the development of several wearable technology devices, it is now easier for a patient to keep track of his/her vital signs without having to visit a hospital. These devices save patients’ time, effort, and money but also helps them in being proactive about their disease management.

Better disease assessment

With the advent of IT for healthcare, there have been several innovations when in health assessment gadgets. These gadgets help medical professionals analyze diseases and determine better preventive solutions for patients.

Also, there has been an increase in the number of minimally-invasive surgeries, which enable patients to recover sooner and better as compared to traditional surgical methods. From a long-term perspective, IT in healthcare helps to improve overall medical care and better serve a greater number of patients across the globe.

Improved medical research

All medical research organizations are working towards improved research so as to be able to examine diseases and develop effective antibodies to cure them. Technology has made it easier to create vaccines that will not only cure diseases but will also prevent them from spreading.

It is for these reasons that IT for healthcare has emerged as the future of global healthcare systems. This newfound synergy is sure to change the face of medical services in third-world countries, where even basic healthcare facilities are not available to the majority of the population.

 

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Benefits of the Growing OTC Market

In today’s fast-paced, fast-growing world, cost efficiency, time efficiency, and effectiveness are paramount. With the increased incidence of disease and chronic illnesses, the global healthcare industry calling for major change, and medications becoming more and more expensive, an extremely comprehensive and multi-faceted solution is required. One component of that solution, which has proven to save time, money, and provide a number of other benefits, is over-the-counter medication (OTC). The OTC market, once completely overshadowed by the market for prescription medications, is now making huge strides and showing great promise for the future of medicine and healthcare. Below are the benefits of growing OTC market:

Increased accessibility

In most cases, it is almost impossible to obtain OTC medications for illnesses other than the common ones like colds, allergies, heartburn, etc. Yet, when it comes diabetes, a chronic condition that is also incredibly common, those with the disease can only obtain their medication through a prescription. Expanding the OTC market will improve the accessibility of medications for those with chronic diseases, facilitating better and faster treatment. Accessibility ties in with convenience, and when things are more convenient, individuals are more inclined to do them, which can lead to better and more consistent health maintenance.

Increasing the number of OTC medications will also make medication more accessible in places that lack adequate doctors or care facilities, which is especially important in poverty-stricken areas where it might be easier to access a local drugstore than it is to travel to clinic or medical facility.

The downside to accessibility is that it requires greater regulation. By making more medications available over-the-counter, the risk of abuse or black market sales can potentially increase. However, in even the most perfect of circumstances where each and every medication is intensely regulated, the risk can never be totally mitigated and in most cases the benefits outweigh the negatives.

Patient autonomy

Illness can often lead to a feeling of helplessness. This is compounded by the fact that many medications require a prescription, and to obtain that prescription can be a long and sometimes costly process. OTC medication provides a sense of control and empowerment when it comes to dealing with illness; a feeling of being able to take care of oneself and get back on track more quickly. For those who suffer from chronic illnesses or require daily medication, it’s one less stress on their otherwise stressful lives.

Patient autonomy also leads to increased awareness with regard to medication, encouraging more informed and intelligent use. When an individual is able to address an illness by obtaining medication on their own, they are more likely to do extensive research and become more in tune with their overall health and wellness. Further, OTC medications eliminate a great deal of shame and embarrassment when it comes to dealing with health issues that are more personal, such as STDs.

Lower cost

The rise in medication costs is a major issue around the globe and particularly in the United States. OTC medications are significantly cheaper and don’t come with the overhead associated with prescription medications. Because OTC medications cost less, more people can afford them, thus increasing overall healthcare coverage. And with more buyers, pharmaceutical companies are able to build a much larger consumer base and quickly increase revenue. This in turn drives competition, inviting new competitors both within the industry and outside of it to make their way into the growing OTC market. The market will also experience major acquisitions, as larger companies look to secure their share as early as possible.

These are just several of the many benefits that come with the expansion of the OTC market. With great necessity and growing demand, the OTC market is definitely one to pay attention to over the next several years.

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Telehealth – Bringing Healthcare and Technology Together

Gone are the days when doctors made house calls. Today, hospitals can barely keep up with the growing number of patients, and some doctors are opting for MDVIP or Concierge Practice, where they only take on a small number of patients who can pay a premium for more individualized care. It is almost impossible to walk into a clinic without waiting, even in North America. In some places, the closest hospital facility may be 100 miles away or simply doesn’t have the proper resources. The age of technology and smart devices has opened the doors to a new, promising way to address healthcare that capitalizes on the connectivity of our world: telehealth.

Telehealth is defined as the use of technology or telecommunications to provide health services in the areas of health, medicine, and education. Telehealth has a host of applications, from being used to virtually diagnose a patient to providing general health instruction.

More than just a diagnostic tool

Telehealth utilizes all types of technology, and even allows patients to virtually interface with health professionals. This is a major development, as it can allow for much quicker diagnoses and make treatment far more efficient and streamlined. For example: an individual notices a questionable-looking mole and wants to get it checked out given his or her family’s history of skin cancer, but doesn’t can take off work for an appointment. With the use of telehealth, he or she can send a picture of the mole to a dermatologist and virtually discuss possibilities and concerns. The dermatologist can make a quick diagnosis as to whether the mole does in fact require a biopsy, or if the individual should just continue to monitor it at home. Not only does telehealth save time and money, but it also allows a professional to determine a health issue right away even if the patient cannot be physically present, which, in the case of something like skin cancer, can be critical.

Healthcare for all

One of the most important aspects of telehealth is its ability to make healthcare available to everyone, even those in rural, inner city, and impoverished areas, where, in many cases, it is easier to obtain a smartphone than it is to get proper medical care. Travelling to the nearest hospital or clinic can be expensive, not to mention the cost of the treatment itself. On the other side of the coin, building facilities and obtaining resources and proper staffing is incredibly costly, and usually isn’t an option for those areas already dealing with poor infrastructure and lack of funds.

Telehealth is also important for the elderly and those with disabilities, for whom travel is risky and challenging. If a patient requires regular treatment, telehealth allows for the remote monitoring of vitals and the gathering of the medical information needed to continue assisting the patient without them having to leave home.

Global education and resource sharing

Education is hugely important when it comes to healthcare. Many of the world’s health issues can be controlled or even solved with proper education and preventative care, but, unfortunately, millions of people still do not have access to what should be a necessity. With the help of telehealth, health education and resources can be made remotely accessible, no matter the location or language spoken. For those within the health industry, telehealth can be used by medical professionals across the globe to share research, communicate and formulate alternative diagnoses for complex medical cases. Further, in cases where a hospital requires a specialist who is not on-site, the specialist can join the team remotely from any other hospital or medical facility in the world. Telehealth is a comprehensive solution for any issues that come about because of lack of resources.

Telehealth, for sure, represents the future of healthcare, changing the face of the health industry as we know it. And, with the development of new and better technologies occurring at a rapid rate, the opportunity for telehealth will only continue to increase.

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Growing Demands of Healthcare Services Market

With the healthcare sector evolving into a full-fledged vertical of the services market, a wide range of challenging requirements have emerged. Having to meet the growing demand for healthcare services, coupled with the need to reduce prices is just the tip of the iceberg.

Some of the most pressing demands of the healthcare services market today include the following:

  1. Delivering better healthcare services at lower costs

Managing the rising cost of healthcare is one of the greatest challenges which the US faces today. A recent report from the United States government predicted that healthcare spending will reach approximately 20% of the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) by the year 2024. The aging American population and the increased incidence of chronic diseases are the major reasons behind the surge in the cost of healthcare services.

The US tops the list of industrialized nations when it comes to healthcare spending per citizen. With the implementation of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), the nation’s healthcare spending is likely to reach approximately 18% of the GDP by 2018. The spending of other countries in North America is also expected to grow at an annual average of 4%.

  1. Collaboration of various healthcare verticals

One of the most effective ways to provide “360 degree” healthcare service is to bring together all the different groups involved in patient care. In many cases, healthcare service providers only pay attention to a particular disease/ treatment instead of focusing on the overall well-being of the patient. For better delivery of services, it is imperative that a comprehensive approach is adopted by connecting several (if possible, all) verticals of healthcare.

Collaboration can begin with the primary care and secondary care segments, and gradually move to the integration of healthcare and community care, followed by the integration of the service provider with the payer. This kind of integration is especially beneficial for those patients suffering from chronic illnesses and / or require long term care because it provides them with a “one-stop consulting” service platform. This approach also ensures the intelligent use of healthcare resources.

  1. Integration of Health and Information Technology

Another major demand of the healthcare services market is the integration of health and information technology, more commonly known as health information technology or HIT. Several advocates of HIT claim that the US is far behind its counterparts when it comes to using electronic medical resources (EMRs), personal health records, and physician order entry systems.

Digital innovations such as mobile health (mHealth), additive manufacturing (AM), predictive analytics, and telemedicine are some of the best ways for patients, physicians, payers and other healthcare stakeholders to interact. Not only does HIT facilitate new diagnostic and treatment options, it also improves the quality of and access to healthcare services. Most importantly, several surveys have found that HIT plays a critical role in reducing the cost of treatment.

  1. Innovation

Innovation is perhaps the greatest and most challenging demand of the healthcare service market. Lack of innovation on the medical and healthcare front is often regarded by experts as a great lacuna in the system, especially when it comes to the US healthcare segment. From innovation in drug manufacturing to adopting a disruptive innovation strategy for the community healthcare sector, the healthcare services market is looking for ways to tackle healthcare issues in an effective and time-efficient manner.

These are just some of the demands of the healthcare services market in both the US and around the globe. Working diligently to meet these demands is sure to have a significant impact on the healthcare services sector.