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5 Major Healthcare Industry Trends Providers Need to Know in 2021

By Paul Sinclair 03.31.21 Healthcare Industry Trends:Doctor is touching digital virtual screen for analytics Medical data , Medical technology concept
Reading time: 5 minutes

Providers and healthcare leaders of today focus on improving the quality of patient care and engagement. The shift to value-based care means patients expect providers to deliver personal, targeted care with changing delivery and payment models, increased competition, and new technologies — all while navigating the biggest healthcare crisis of our time.

The top healthcare industry trends we’re seeing from our clients aren’t necessarily new. But as we move forward post-COVID-19 pandemic, they’ve gone from “nice to have” options to requirements when it comes to delivering the best possible care for your patients. These five healthcare trends will continue to define the healthcare industry:

1. Evolving customer expectations

Customer expectations continue to add pressure to healthcare organizations to deliver care with speed, convenience, and personalized service. 

You can no longer afford to do things the way you’ve always done them. Nowadays, 90% of customers rate an “immediate” response as important or very important when they have a customer service question. 60% of customers define “immediate” as 10 minutes or less. 

Millennials in particular prefer service over price. Those patients actively look for self-service with digital channels — with the vast majority preferring to book appointments online. 

84% of those surveyed indicated that appointment availability was a very or extremely important criteria when selecting a provider — with 60% of respondents indicating that they have looked for another provider in search for a sooner appointment. Of those, 39% said they had in fact switched providers to get a sooner appointment.

Most consumers cannot get them after-hours or on weekends. This is a non-starter for Millennials, who are three times more likely than Baby Boomers to choose providers for “off hours” appointment availability. Nearly one-third of consumers say they cannot get an appointment at a convenient location.

Patients are not going to wait around for you — they’re going to find a provider who can see them, and see them quickly.

2. Opening the digital front door

For health systems, staying competitive requires capturing patients at every step in their healthcare journey — whether that be through in-person interactions or new virtual solutions. That means reaching patients before they even seek care, and giving them a seamless, top-notch experience once they do. 

In an era of digital transformation, patients want more control and choice, often through virtual, digital, and self-service channels. This gives more choice and access when interacting with providers and healthcare organizations. A strong digital front door strategy is a must-have for all healthcare providers — one that can be personalized to allow patients easy access to a host of services like: 

  • Booking appointments
  • Receiving quotes for healthcare costs
  • Refilling medications
  • Reviewing their health plans
  • Tracking daily health data 
  • Virtual or telehealth visits

That’s why so many providers are investing in customer engagement capabilities. Across the industry we’re seeing providers improve patient interactions, achieve improved health outcomes, and build loyalty among their patient base. 

How? Digital transformation. The pandemic forced healthcare organizations to digitize the consumer experience and ramp up their digital capabilities to stay connected to patients. 

The successful implementation of this strategy holds the key for providers seeking to integrate patient care, reduce the burden on medical staff, help patients navigate their health journey, and effectively manage costs. And they need to stay competitive with new market entrants and disruptors.

3. A hybrid model of care

Providers are increasingly moving to a hybrid model of care. Patients dealing with routine or less severe ailments can opt for virtual care to talk to a doctor right away. This allows patients to receive health care in real-time by filling prescriptions and asking questions now, rather than waiting for an in-person appointment. Teleconferencing and telehealth have become a need-to-have option that’s here to stay, even after the pandemic.

The number of patients using telehealth increased from 11 to 46 percent in 2020, with growth likely to continue. Telehealth could account for 20 percent, or $250 billion, of U.S. healthcare spending in the near future. In fact, 97% of patients surveyed were satisfied by their first telehealth experience. However, most patients do not currently have the option for virtual appointments.

Virtual care options will continue to expand, covering such health issues like weight management, mental health, care management for chronic conditions like diabetes or cardiovascular disease, and prenatal care. Providers need to pay more attention to the evaluation of the quality, outcomes, effectiveness, patient experience, and cost of virtual care options and innovations, as well as the appropriateness of virtual vs. in-person care for specific services.

Healthcare technology will still need to adapt to accommodate the continuing shift. Health systems need greater integration with existing technology platforms and strategies to address cybersecurity and privacy concerns. In this way, telehealth is another area that will increase demands on the digital workforce and healthcare CIOs.

The sudden shift to digital provided access to care and introduced consumers to a higher level of convenience. For many, there will be no going back. The industry will either deliver enriching online experiences for patients of all ages, or they will find their patients siphoned off by more compelling services.

4. Interoperability and standardization 

This year helped pave the way for advancements in EHR interoperability and standardization. With the federal government’s new regulations, which aim to help patients gain better control of their health data via smartphone apps, interoperability will increase between providers, payers and health tech developers.

Ultimately, the goal is to be able to share and access information that informs an individual’s full, longitudinal health story. By having and understanding the complete picture of an individual’s health — including their preferences and other social determinants — clinicians can better inform care and decision making. With value-based care from providers, patients can become active participants. Research indicates that an engaged patient achieves better health outcomes. 

5. Increased emphasis on data management

The rate at which data is being produced, collected, and analyzed is greater than ever before. IBM reported that the world creates 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every day.  Providers can now see trends across their entire population, including predictive models for disease prevalence and service demand. Health systems now have the technical capabilities for predictive analytics, powered by artificial intelligence, to identify high risk patients for more efficient patient management. 

It’s more important than ever to consider cloud implementations like Salesforce Health Cloud to securely store and coordinate data.

Leap into the future of value-based care with Silverline and Salesforce Health Cloud

Providers need access to the right patient data at the right time and in the right format to provide the best possible care. Just like patients, providers want an emphasis on self-service, mobility, and agility so they can deliver on the promise of high-value care anywhere, anytime. 

Shifting toward value-based care requires providers to evolve the way they coordinate to deliver care across multiple organizations and specialties. With this transition comes the need for a complete view of each patient to quality care and communication — made possible by a robust CRM solution.

Silverline’s experienced team members come from across the healthcare industry

We have a wealth of experience when it comes to digitally transforming provider and patient experiences. Let our team help you address these trends head on.

Ready to see real results? We can help.

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