Healthcare has become one of the biggest concerns on everyone’s minds, including patients, doctors, and politicians.

We’re facing a time where policies are changing, new technologies are emerging, and the need for healthcare is expanding. The industry will likely see more change and growth in 2018 than in any prior year.

The following aren’t new issues, but they will become the top healthcare concerns that define this year.

Opioid Crisis

According to a report from the National Center for Health Statistics, more than 63,600 lives were lost to drug overdose. This is a crisis of epic proportions.

President Trump declared the opioid crisis a public health emergency in 2017, but this is just one step in fixing a massive problem. As a nation, we didn’t get to this point overnight, and we won’t solve the opioid crisis any time soon. We’ll likely be dealing with the ramifications of this epidemic well into the next decade.

According to the PWCs Health Research Report, in 2018, healthcare organizations will begin collaborating to help prevent opioid misuse and support patients in recovery. We can expect industry leaders to continue collaborating on addiction and overdose prevention programs. Law enforcement will continue to expand access to overdose treatments like naloxone.

Securing the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a term that refers to devices that connect to the internet. A 3D printer is an example of an IoT device that’s used in healthcare, but there are many more.

IoT can help doctors save lives, but its benefits do come at a cost. Whenever anything is connected to the internet, security is a concern.

In 2017, we saw major industry-wide cybersecurity breaches that reinforce the importance and urgency of securing the internet of things in healthcare. In 2018, hospitals and other healthcare organizations will regroup and reinforce their cybersecurity plans. This will likely lead to an upsurge in healthcare IT costs.

Prioritizing Patient Experience

Have you noticed that healthcare has become more patient-centric in the past few years? Mostly gone are the days when it was the norm to wait an hour or more to see the doctor. Today, doctors and healthcare organizations prioritize patient experience more than ever before. This trend will continue, but it does put some pressure on healthcare providers.

The new healthcare landscape is a more competitive one where providers compete to offer the smoothest and most pleasant experience for their patients. This means we can expect to see healthcare providers implement new features, such as telemedicine, online booking and more.

This may be a benefit to us, but it is a concern that’s top-of-mind for healthcare providers and organizations.

Healthcare Reform

Republicans are expected to continue their efforts to pursue healthcare reform in 2018, but it will take place in smaller increments. What does this mean for healthcare?

According to the PWC report, we can expect that Republicans will reduce and cap federal Medicaid spending, expand access to lower-premium insurance, reduce ACA consumer protections and repeal the taxes and fees associated with the ACA.

Should they go through, these changes will likely lead to more Americans being uninsured. Uninsured Americans put a strain on the system and increase overall healthcare costs.

We can’t say for sure what changes will take place, but healthcare policy will continue to be a concern through much of 2018.

The concerns we face in 2018 are some of the same concerns that were on our minds at the close of last year. Although we don’t have a crystal ball, we can guess that the opioid epidemic will get slightly worse before it gets better. Security and patient experience will shape how we receive care in this year, and we will wait with bated breath to see how new policies will change our healthcare system.

 

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