Many healthcare industry trends relate to different aspects of technology, while others reflect cultural changes. Technological trends include ongoing advancements in software and hardware. They may also include understanding the individual genetics of each patient. Overall improvements in healthcare may lead to increases in longevity, causing a larger older adult population, which is another healthcare industry trend. In contrast to these technology driven trends, there is also a tendency to incorporate integrative practices.
Increasingly sophisticated software applications represent an important trend in healthcare. The use of software by healthcare providers and staff to aid in decision-making and tracking patient health information may increase. Medical software applications are also important to patients, who may increasingly interact with software when visiting healthcare facilities and through applications that they may use to manage their health.
Along with software, other technology-driven healthcare industry trends relate to advances in hardware or devices. In general, devices tend to become smaller in size, and capable of performing more functions. The convergence of software and hardware as smart devices may drive another trend: allowing patients to be more involved in maintaining and treating their conditions. As patients become increasingly informed and active in the health, they may wish for additional control regarding their healthcare options.
Telemedicine, where a physician can conduct an examination of a patient at a remote facility using television technology, may be another important trend. A telemedicine clinic may be a small facility that is staffed with a nurse and outfitted with video equipment. These facilities can be especially helpful to patients who live in rural areas, or patients who need to see a specialist who is at an inconvenient distance.
As technology is increasingly used in healthcare, the ability to track, analyze and report on patient outcomes and safety becomes more feasible. The field of health information may expand, which may evolve to use more sophisticated techniques. As the field expands, educational opportunities may also become larger. Among healthcare industry trends is that of individualized medicine in which a physician may analyze a patient’s genetic makeup. The physician may then prescribe medications or other treatments specifically designed for that person.
With improvements in health care people are living longer, resulting in an older population that may require more healthcare services; additionally, the nature of those services may be quite different from that of younger populations. Over time, healthcare knowledge and practices may evolve to better treat these patients. Patients in Western countries may also be increasingly interested in expanding healthcare choices from conventional medicine, possibly adding practices from alternate healthcare systems, such as acupuncture, Ayurveda, or energy healing. Traditional healthcare facilities may continue to integrate these healthcare industry trends to increase patient satisfaction and, potentially, to reduce costs.