Healthcare is an ever-evolving industry. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) has spurred huge change in the field and new technologies are revolutionizing the way care is delivered. What’s in store for 2015?

Healthcare Hackers:  In the summer of 2014, hackers gained access to part of HealthCare.gov, the federal insurance marketplace, and uploaded malicious software. No sensitive patient information was stolen during the breach, but you can expect to see more news about data breaches in healthcare in 2015. According to a report by IDC Health Insights, half of all healthcare organizations will have experienced one to five cyber-attacks by 2015. As providers continue to rely more and more on computer- and cloud-based databases and electronic medical records, it can be expected that healthcare information will be subject to attacks. 

Telemedicine Boom: Medical care doesn’t always need to be delivered in a doctor’s office. The Affordable Care Act urges providers to reduce health care costs, and telemedicine is a lower-cost alternative to expensive office or emergency department visits. Unfortunately, the insurance reimbursement structure to cover the costs of these “virtual” visits isn’t quite in place yet. But that could be changing in the coming year. Insurers like United Healthcare, Wellpoint and Blue Cross Blue Shield plans have become more receptive to reimbursing for telehealth visits, while industry trade groups are actively lobbying the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to cover such visits.

Urgent Care Evolution: Just like telemedicine, urgent care moves care out of the doctor’s office and emergency room. Urgent care clinics offer patients a valuable alternative for receiving care that’s often quicker, more convenient, and more affordable than an ER visit. Here in Massachusetts, Partners HealthCare has announced plans to open more urgent care facilities; meanwhile retail clinics like CVS Health’s Minute Clinics continue to open at a rapid rate.

Health Trackers: 2014 was the year of the FitBit. Wearable fitness trackers were huge this year, and that trend is likely to continue. According to Mashable, the next big device will be worn on users’ ears because “devices worn on the ear can conduct completely unobtrusive, passive monitoring and offer far more precise measurements.”  Another device likely to make a splash in the industry? Sweat sensor strips. These flexible sensors that allow you to track things like electrolytes, hydration, muscle exertion and physical performance by measuring substances in your sweat.

 

What are your predictions for healthcare trends in 2015?