The US healthcare business is projected to be valued $2.83 trillion.
Healthcare is a slow-moving sector in certain aspects. In many other ways, it is primed for change.
And in other situations, the disruption has already begun.
This article will show you eight of the most important healthcare trends and opportunities to look out for in 2023 and beyond.
As well as examples of organizations moving these trends ahead.
1. AI Is Starting To Disrupt Healthcare
Artificial intelligence is already having an impact on a wide range of businesses.
Healthcare is no different.
In the previous five years, searches for “AI and healthcare” have increased 540%.
Your.MD (also known as “Healthily”) is one example of this trend.
The Your.MD mobile app employs artificial intelligence to assist users in self-diagnosis.
This medtech business, founded in 2012, has received $67.3 million in funding to date.
And $30 million of that came in an October 2020 Series A round.
Your.MD displays important health information via a mobile app using machine learning.
This enables people to examine their own symptoms.
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of users on Your.MD increased by 350%.
Alivecor is another example of a consumer employing healthcare AI.
This startup makes personal ECG gadgets that employ artificial intelligence to detect and predict irregular heart rhythms.
Personal ECGs from AliveCor’s KardiaMobile.
Healthcare providers are also increasingly utilizing AI.
Typically, in the form of augmented intelligence.
The American Medical Association defines “augmented intelligence” as the use of artificial intelligence for assistive purposes.
In other words, it is intended to supplement rather than replace clinical intelligence.
Aidoc, an Israeli firm, employs AI to assist radiologists in detecting visual abnormalities in CT scans and other medical imaging.
AI in radiology is one example.
The business announced a $27 million Series B fundraising round to expand its technology and go-to-market team, citing significant demand for its solutions.
Overall, the global market for artificial intelligence-enabled medical imaging systems is expected to grow from $404 million in 2018 to $9.61 billion in 2029.
2. Healthcare Becomes More Expensive Personalized
Personalized healthcare (PHC) is all about tailoring medical treatment to the specific needs of each patient.
According to the Cleveland Clinic, this includes “genetics and genomics, but also any other biologic information that helps predict disease risk or how a patient will respond to treatments.”
This enables the application of precision medicine, which has the potential to enhance health outcomes while also lowering costs.
Why is PHC such a popular healthcare trend?
One key cause is the availability of low-cost genetic testing products.
23andMe used to charge $999 for their DNA testing kits.
The price was reduced to $299 in 2012.
Because of economies of scale and efficient supply chains, anyone can now purchase one of their kits for less than $100.
Since 2019, the number of searches for “23andMe” has decreased. However, searches remain pretty high.
In reality, there is now a wide range of personal DNA kits on the market, with some costing less than $60 on Amazon.
And, while 23andMe has reported decreased sales, this is likely due to such kits becoming a commodity rather than a lack of interest in the product.
Aside from DNA testing kits, several other types of home testing kits are now accessible.
Everlywell creates testing kits for conditions such as hormone levels, allergies, food sensitivities, and vitamin deficiencies.
Everywell is rapidly expanding, with brand name searches more than doubling in the last two years.
The number of wearable gadgets individuals use to track their health and behaviors is another element driving personalized healthcare forward.
This leads us to the following healthcare trend on our list.
3. Wearable Technology Move Upstream
Wearable devices and the medical sphere are progressively overlapping.
Oura, the maker of the popular Oura Ring wearable fitness tracker, worked with UCSF on a study to try to detect early signs of COVID-19 during the pandemic’s early days.
As more individuals use wearable technology, searches for “Oura Ring” have increased rapidly (more than 1,000% in 5 years).
Fitbit has also conducted a study of its own.
The FDA authorized the Apple Watch as a medical device in 2018.
This allowed the product to be utilized and commercialized for ECG testing and identifying atrial fibrillation.
The FDA’s classification of the Apple Watch as a medical device aided in the acceptance of consumer wearables as credible healthcare monitoring tools.
With over 100 million active Apple Watch users, Apple has access to massive volumes of medical data.
Apple collaborated with Stanford University to conduct a study on abnormal cardiac rhythms, linked heart disorders, and the smartwatch’s capacity to identify them.
The study was the largest of its type, with over 400,000 participants.
Last year, Apple announced a new collaboration with Johnson & Johnson to conduct a new cardiac study utilizing the Apple Watch (and iPhone).
The study this time focuses on those above the age of 65.
Is Apple’s foray into healthcare only temporary?
Don’t put your money on it.
Tim Cook stated in 2019:
“I believe that if you zoom out into the future and ask the question, ‘What was Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind?’ It will concern health.”
We’re closer than ever to that reality in 2023.
Heart rate monitoring is available on the Apple Watch.
It is estimated that the Internet of Things (IoT) will save the US healthcare system tens of billions of dollars per year.
However, not everyone is ecstatic about Apple’s or other tech businesses’ achievements.
Many cardiologists have spoken out against what they see as inflated claims made by Apple.
Their main worry is that broad usage of real-time monitoring may result in unneeded medical procedures.
There are also issues about privacy.
Few technology companies are known for keeping customer data private.
According to The Washington Post, the pregnancy-tracking software Ovia was selling its customers’ health data to their own employers.
While 23andMe shared genetic information from 5 million of its consumers with pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.
Will customers be hesitant to give Apple and other tech corporations access to their health information in light of these concerns?
So far, it appears that “no” is the answer.
4. The Growth of Virtual Healthcare
In the United States, the telemedicine sector is worth $30.4 billion.
And it’s expanding quicker than ever before.
Indeed, online searches for “telehealth” are increasing.
Searches for “telehealth” increased at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it is still higher than pre-pandemic levels.
62% of healthcare customers favor virtual healthcare choices, according to Accenture’s 2020 digital health consumer survey.
According to the same survey, 57% of respondents would appreciate a remote monitoring option for ongoing health difficulties. In addition, 52% would prefer virtual care for routine appointments.
If given the opportunity, 42% of consumers would “definitely or probably” pick a virtual option for disease diagnosis.
New telehealth services are increasingly being offered by health care companies such as Babylon Health and others.
Babylon Health provides video consultations with healthcare providers.
Payers are also improving their telehealth options:
42 states and the District of Columbia now mandate private insurers to cover telemedicine.
(These are typically payments for in-person appointments and treatments.)
With 71.6 million Baby Boomers in or nearing retirement in the United States, the pressures on the healthcare system will definitely rise.
Telehealth provides a more efficient – and hygienic – way of treatment, which should help reduce some of the stress.
Simultaneously, remote patient monitoring (RPM) services are assisting patients in recovering from surgery at home, lowering hospital admissions and emergency room visits.
5. SDOH Comes Into Play
Google searches for “social determinants of health” fluctuate.
SDOH, or Social Determinants of Health, are non-medical elements that influence people’s health.
When compared to Caucasians, “minorities frequently receive poorer quality of care and face more barriers to seeking care,” according to the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.
The discrepancy in public health care is severe in some areas.
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is intended to help close the gap. However, it appears that there is still room for improvement.
For example, the CDC has said that African-Americans, refugees, and children adopted from countries other than the United States are all at a higher risk of lead exposure.
Will 2023 be the year when these difficulties are completely resolved?
Most likely not.
However, healthcare practitioners and governments are paying closer attention to it now. And significant changes are likely.
6. Mental Health Is Making A Comeback
Many of today’s chronic diseases are essentially the result of human activities.
In wealthy countries, overeating, smoking, not exercising, and substance misuse are all major causes of morbidity.
In reality, behavioral and other avoidable causes account for approximately half of all fatalities in the United States.
Furthermore, up to one-third of individuals are thought to fit the criteria for a mental health issue.
It’s no wonder that behavioral medicine is gaining popularity.
Behavioral medicine encompasses psychology, occupational therapy, preventative medicine, biofeedback, and other disciplines.
In many respects, behavioral medicine is the intersection of mental and physical health.
As a result, primary care physicians have begun to recommend outdoor walks and forest bathing to boost mental health.
Over the last five years, global Google searches for “forest bathing” have increased by 75%.
Fewer than half of persons with a mental health issue obtain care, according to the American Hospital Association.
Furthermore, 70% of persons with a mental health disease also have a physical health problem.
That is one of the reasons the AHA has stated its support for policy improvements to expand access to mental healthcare.
7. Direct Corporate Healthcare
Over one-tenth of large American firms have established direct-to-employer relationships with healthcare providers.
Will these businesses end there?
It doesn’t appear to be the case.
When Amazon launched Amazon Care for its Seattle-based employees in February 2020, there was conjecture that it was also prepping for a public debut.
Amazon appears to be hungry for more after having a taste of the healthcare business with prescription delivery service PillPack, which it acquired for $753 million in 2018.
PillPack is a pharmaceutical delivery service offered by Amazon.
Other firms are also getting into healthcare.
Consider the competitor retailer Sam’s Club.
They introduced publicly available healthcare packages in September 2019 that included medications, dental services, vision exams, preventative health screenings, prepaid health debit cards, and more.
While Alphabet, Google’s parent firm, has helped to construct a clinic called Cityblock and is also working on a project called Medical Digital Assist to provide a “next gen clinical visit experience.”
8. Healthcare Is Being Unbundled
While many Americans strive for universal healthcare, a public option, or “Medicare for all,” another trend is emerging:
Healthcare that is not bundled.
Healthcare insurance firms such as Bind provide “on-demand healthcare.”
Bind is one of numerous insurance firms that provide on-demand healthcare.
Customers can select granular levels of coverage from a menu of options with this functionality.
Furthermore, people should not be locked into any one network of healthcare providers.
In theory, this method leads to lower prices because people only pay for what they need and can compare doctors.
These new sorts of plans, however, may expose patients to significant financial risks.
After all, it’s difficult to shop around for a decent bargain when you’re in the midst of a medical emergency.
And Bind avoids the ACA’s cap on in-network out-of-pocket spending by starting with no network and designating additional expenses as premiums (which are not capped).
Others choose high-deductible insurance plans and use health savings accounts to help offset the risk.
Over time, Google searches for “HSA”
Cooperatives, such as Christian Healthcare Ministries, allow large groups of individuals to pool their money to help one other pay their medical expenditures as an alternative to standard health insurance.
For-profit alternatives are also available, such as the Sam’s Club healthcare bundles mentioned above.
Another part of the unbundled healthcare revolution is urgent care facilities and other walk-in clinics.
In the United States, there are roughly 9,300 urgent care centers.
The Google Maps result for “urgent care” in New York City.
These walk-in medical clinics provide urgent but non-life-threatening medical assistance after hours.
And they cost an average of $125 to $150 per visit without health insurance (compared to $2,032 for an emergency room visit).
This reduces the number of unnecessary ER visits, which cost Americans $32 billion each year.
Urgent care centers are fast expanding as a healthcare industry.
Between 2013 and 2018, the number of urgent care centers in the United States increased by 44%. And an additional 4.6% in 2022.
MedExpress, acquired by UnitedHealth Group in 2015 for $1.5 billion, is the largest urgent care operator in the United States, with over 250 facilities.
In April 2017, private equity firm Warburg Pincus acquired a majority stake in urgent care provider CityMD, allegedly for $600 million.
That concludes our list of the top healthcare trends for 2023 and beyond.
Unbundled competitors are pressuring health insurers and providers to innovate. While technology (such as automation, analytics, and EHR) gives customers more control, it also optimizes medical device supply chains and makes medical practitioners more effective.
Nobody knows what the future will bring.
Healthcare firms that bet on these trends, on the other hand, will be well-positioned to succeed as the market evolves.