2016: Opportunities and Challenges in Health Care

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In 2016, mHealth technology will occupy center stage in transforming clinical care and clinical research.  Smartphone-linked wearable sensors will turn science fiction into reality as these mobile diagnostic tools provide the in depth information that enables    patients and clinicians to experience more accurate, continuous streams of information that will help them make better informed health choices.
In 2016, Telemedicine in combination with wearable sensors, robotics and advanced diagnostic and surgical capabilities, will enable physicians and patients in under-served and remote areas to experience top quality medicine. Additionally, many more eVisits, based on telemedicine technology will change the dynamic of the patient/clinician relationship.
Big Data, currently in its infancy, will expand and begin to supply the analytics and storage of information needed to enable precision medicine which specifically takes into account individual variability in genes, environment, and lifestyle and tailors medical treatment to the individual characteristics of each patient.
Robotics will continue to radically change the way many surgical procedures are conducted and will expand into healthcare tasks of all kinds from helping patients cope with illness at home, to dispensing drugs, supplies, food service and more throughout the hospital and other health care sites.

Wearable Sensor Technology
There is increasing clinical evidence that continuous physiological monitoring using wearable technology to manage chronic diseases and monitor patients’ post-hospitalization, will be ground-breaking.  The market for wearable technologies in health care is projected to exceed $2.9 billion in 2016, and transform medical care in unimagined ways.
Devices, including glucose monitors, ECG monitors, pulse oximeters, and blood pressure monitors, worn on or close to the body are expected to produce the most ground-breaking innovations. Textiles that incorporate sensors within the fabric that seamlessly deliver patient data to doctors will see expanded usage.  Solutions that use Bluetooth technology to track elderly patients’ movements and send health measurements to caregivers will also be widely used.
Expanded use of digestible sensors, (approved by the FDA in 2011), a digestible pill that transmits information about a patient to medical professionals to help them customize care, will continue to provide healthcare professionals with more information about the human body and how various treatment solutions affect each system of organs. Digestible sensors have the potential to replace the face-to-face office visit exam. They are able to monitor body systems and wirelessly transmit what’s happening in your body to another device like your smartphone or computer, and help clinicians detect disease and conditions at an early stage.
Telemedicine
Telemedicine, much discussed, has become more widely adopted among health institutions and will continue to expand in 2016.  Telemedicine services can address the needs of hard-to-reach patients who require assistance with rehabilitation, including physical and occupational therapy following orthopedic and cardiac surgery, and stroke.  Telemedicine also has the potential to provide much needed mental health consultation services, and diagnostic and treatment advice from experts at major medical centers to small rural hospitals over video connections.  This is already saving lives and improving quality of care.
Robotics 2016
Robots in health care extend clinical capabilities and leverage best of care options by performing complex tasks using integrated datasets and intricate instruments that they are able to manage much more effectively than humans. Robots, in 2016, will be used across the continuum of care, in the OR and the ER, and for home-bound patients as well as for teaching, Robotic “Flight Simulator” Surgery has become a new way to train surgical students to perform complex operations without practicing on live patients, which improves their training and reduces medical errors.
Big Data
In 2016, large data sets that reveal patterns, trends, and associations, especially relating to human physiology and interactions between cells, proteins and other elements in the body, will be common in the medical setting.     This means that clinicians will have the ability to look for trends and associations to deliver best practices based on predictive analytics. Use of Big Data is going to be increasingly important in personalized/precision medicine (genetics and genomics), as more and more patients have their genome analyzed for the purpose of finding a specific customized treatment solution for a complex medical issues. As more connected devices come online and new data sources such as those from wearables and social media  gain acceptance, the promise of big data analytics in medicine is enormous.
Key Challenges 2016:
Interoperability
Over $28 billion dollars have been spent in the U.S, to date, on implementing health information technology, particularly Electronic Health Record Systems (EHR).  However, these systems are not yet interoperable, meaning that information does not flow seamlessly between disparate health records. This prevents hospitals and medical groups within states and across geographic boundaries from exchanging patient data when an individual has an emergency situation that requires attention outside of his or her familiar medical home. This complicates treatment and thwarts healthcare’s most basic objectives, full information at the point of care. This is a challenge we should attempt to resolve in 2016.
Healthcare Consumerism
Patients are consumers of healthcare, and accordingly, they expect to be treated as customers. Until recently, consumerism in the U.S. healthcare industry was a non-issue. Several issues are converging to change that dynamic.  Higher deductibles and copayments, greater transparency into provider performance and cost of care, better health literacy supported by an influx of health information in every media from print, video and online, all contribute to patients becoming healthcare consumers who expect support and service.
According to a McKinsey survey of more than 11,000 people across the country about how they perceive their healthcare needs and wants, how they select providers, and how they make other healthcare decisions, consumers want the same qualities in healthcare companies that they value in non-healthcare settings. great customer service that includes delivering on expectations, making life easier and offering great value.
Consumers want healthcare delivered to them in a way that is a very different paradigm from the way healthcare works today.  The lack of affordable insurance on ACA exchanges, low price transparency around healthcare costs, and increasing financial burdens on consumers will drive the shift towards consumerism in 2016.
Cutting Edge Innovation
2016 will also see great advances in innovative technology and customized patient services, as well as in development of medications that provide better cures for many long-time incurable diseases.  Today, there is a wide gap between the availability of such drugs and the ability of the public to pay for these remedies that are so highly priced.  There are enormous hurdles to overcome in the implementation and acceptance of new technologies as old habits die hard.
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