We asked 4 healthcare industry experts to weigh in on their reflections of 2015 as well as their predictions of what’s to come in 2016.
1. What was the biggest surprise in your industry during 2015?
CHERYL WHITMAN: In cosmetic, aesthetic and dermatology the number of non-invasive body sculpting devices in the market was a bit of a surprise. Cosmetic dermatologists crossed into this arena by the droves as consumers became more and more interested in non-surgical procedures for all of their cosmetic needs. Practices have expanded their portfolios to meet this demand and there appears to be amazing growth potential in this niche.
Two other surprises were Radio Frequency devices taking over the non surgical arena, as well as growth in male and ethnic niche markets.
CHANDRESH SHAH: The biggest surprise was a ‘no surprise’. CMS listened to the industry that Meaningful Use was getting increasingly difficult for providers to comply with without getting bogged down in myriad documentation. They relaxed rules and measures for compliance. This was a sigh of relief for many providers and practices as well as groups.
From a technology perspective, I was surprised at the lack of innovation at point of care. The industry continues to chug along with old technology. There does not seem to be any effort in putting emphasis on end-user usability, when we see everyone else moving miles ahead. Google Now and Microsoft Cortana are making use of your own data to make your life easier. Why isn’t Healthcare technology attempting it?
NIRMAL NATHAN, M.D.: From a clinical perspective, I was surprised to see how many non-surgical and minimally invasive products are coming onto the market. These products are addressing issues such as fat reduction, skin tightening, and facial rejuvenation…areas that have long been the domain of surgery.
Surgery remains the gold standard, but now there are so many options to offer patients. This allows us be to truly customize and tailor treatments for each patient.
From a broader practice perspective, social media has really come to the forefront as the biggest way to engage patients. More than SEO or reviews, responsive social media is becoming the dominant and most cost effective way to reach and retain patients.
SHARAT KUSUMA, M.D.: The rapid growth of bundled payment initiatives and implementation of Comprehensive Care in Joint Replacement model by April 1, 2016.
I am also surprised at how many different hospital penalty programs have been instituted in the past four years. HAC, SSI penalties, readmission penalties, non-reimbursed conditions, etc.; and how rapidly they have been implemented and enforced.
2. What is the biggest change you expect to see in 2016?
CHERYL WHITMAN: Since more people have become aware of cosmetic and aesthetic dermatology as an industry, I believe that the largest cosmetic growth will be in the dermatology specialty. People trust their dermatologist to handle the health of their skin – this will increasingly include the aging of the skin. Also, cosmetic dermatologists tend to take the non-invasive route to rejuvenation of the face and body. In our fast-paced society, this caters to the way consumers live. The value of having little to no down time pushes the market to deliver more and more options at a premium price.
I also expect to see changes in state laws dealing with provider rules and regulations, medical director state laws and who can provide what medical service. Aesthicians are also affected by newer state laws.
CHANDRESH SHAH: Innovation seems to be driven by regulations. Which means people don’t seem to matter as much when it comes to technology usability. More than ‘expect’, I ‘hope’ someone will take a leadership role in changing that.
NIRMAL NATHAN, M.D.: We are already seeing multimedia play a role in healthcare documentation and delivery. The ways that this data is delivered in a clinical context has been bulky and non-intuitive. I think we will see a broader push in the healthcare space, especially in cosmetic surgery, to use multimedia to deliver more efficient and effective health care. This includes clinical documentation, educational videos, and telemedicine.
SHARAT KUSUMA, M.D.: Continued movement of procedures to outpatient setting and continued moves toward bundled payments for episodes of care. Essentially continued movements to try and reduce the costs for any given episode of care (e.g. total knee replacement, CABG, prostatectomy), while also maintaining high levels of patient satisfaction.
3. What role do you envision mobility playing in the healthcare sphere in 2016?
CHERYL WHITMAN: This year we will really see mobility become a staple in healthcare in two areas: diagnostics & management of chronic illness; and management of their healthcare costs. Telemedicine will continue to see a growing demand.
Other areas where mobility will expand include:
EMR implementation in many aesthetic practices and medical spas.
Patients will have their first video consults using their smartphones as diagnostic tools.
Aesthetic physicians now offering video consults for cosmetic procedures.
With the changes in most insurances, Americans will be faced with higher deductibles and more responsibility in managing medical expenses. Mobile applications are popping up everywhere to assist consumers in taking on this task.
CHANDRESH SHAH: Mobility by itself may help incrementally, breaking the shackles of computers. Mobility driven by hardware and software. The trend towards mobile hardware platforms (Microsoft Surface to Apple Watch) is inevitable, but the big question is software working on these platforms in an integrated and ubiquitous manner.
Behind the ‘any everything’ approach, input and output must also be driven by intelligent decision making, which means personal data-mining will be huge.
NIRMAL NATHAN, M.D.: Mobility has been the missing cog which has limited the use of social media and multimedia in the healthcare space. I envision a healthcare delivery system that allows communication and engagement anytime, at any place. The underlying software driving this change needs to be intuitive and natively mobile. The days of clunky COWs and iPads are over. For a segment of healthcare providers, mobility will allow them to achieve a level of efficiency and communication that will truly be transformative.
SHARAT KUSUMA, M.D.: The most important role for mobility in 2016, given the trends described above, is to allow what I will call Just-In-Time (JIT) health information. The ability for docs, patients, ancillary providers, implant vendors, pharamcists to enter, receive, share information in real time, at the exact moment they need to perform these activities. This can and should be done in a secure manner that is intuitive, clear and easy. The ONLY way this can happen is in a mobile, smartphone-based platform that all the above mentioned stakeholders carry with them at all time.
How will mobility impact your practice in 2016?
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