Healthcare and technology: two words with so much depth and which are synonymous with progress. While there is much unknown about what 2022 will bring, one thing is certain – the healthcare industry will experience exponential advances brought on by rapid innovation in technology and access to the data that underpins it. Let’s pause to share some specific healthcare predictions for the coming year.
As I look forward, I am both honored and excited to be part of a company that will advance the healthcare industry through smart innovation and that will contribute to improvements in community and individual health outcomes.
In addition to my broad healthcare predictions, here is what some of my colleagues believe will happen within the healthcare ecosystem this year.
Differentiation through Data
2022 will be a “hinge” year in healthcare, between the past era in healthcare where workflow solutions were the primary focus and the source of competitive differentiation, versus the future era where data and insights will be the target of larger investments and increasingly used for competitive differentiation. A drive towards better data will result in better clinical, financial, and operational outcomes. My other thought is that the focus on health equity will continue. Updated statistical models that impute race and ethnicity will be significantly more accurate and fairer than models of the past. The health equity discussion will become more sophisticated around diversity and equity of actual needs, such as economic status, education, transportation, and food insecurity, which are the measurable underlining issues driving disparity gaps sadly seen with race and ethnicity. Issues such as education, transportation, and more are the significant factors that can be targeted by interventions.
Expansion of Social Determinants of Health Programs
In 2022, we predict that health systems will continue to expand their focus on social determinants of health (SDOH), seeking additional ways to understand and impact the experience of the whole patient. A continued focus on the disparate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on at-risk populations will continue to fuel a need to understand and improve conditions for vulnerable populations. In addition, organizations will focus on ways to evaluate success of their programming, driving for ROI or impact to outcomes or patient engagement, rather than simply pursuing SDOH as “nice to have.” With the creation of the SDOH Caucus, our healthcare predictions also point to movement within our government to support funding for SDOH programs and efforts as well as incenting use of this impactful data.
More Telehealth, More Patient Focus, More Health Equity
I foresee three distinct occurrences for 2022. The first, telehealth utilization will increase as providers seek to reduce patient leakage (legacy brick and mortar) and new reimbursement models come online. Secondly, we will see an increase in outcomes-based, patient-centric care models that will be driven by data-based care decisions and renewed efforts in value-based care. And finally, as health disparities persist in rural markets, we’ll be better equipped with the detailed data and analytics needed to pinpoint the causes and mobilize the right resources to advance health equity to those who need it most.
Greater Investment in Identity Proofing
Virtual healthcare is exploding and the need for balancing accurate patient record matching and data security is imperative for all healthcare organizations. The pandemic accelerated the adoption of digital remote healthcare and telemedicine services and, in parallel, it put a spotlight on our inability to share accurate and complete patient data efficiently and protect our internal systems and patient data from ransomware and cyber-attacks. In 2022, I believe we will see increased investment in identity proofing solutions that help protect internal systems from unauthorized access, and the growing need for accurate patient matching will motivate healthcare organizations to seek out solutions such as referential matching to resolve mismatched and duplicate records in their master data management (MDM) and enterprise master patient index (EMPI) systems in compliance with the 21st Century Cures Act.
An Increase in Interoperability Leading to Patient Enablement
The push towards interoperability will aggressively continue in 2022. Health plans pushed to get compliance with interoperability and Patient Access final rule in 2021, and I believe that they will begin to look at how to leverage this data both internally and from external entities to support their business operations in the coming year. Additionally, providers and electronic health record (HER) vendors will look to develop their own capabilities in advance of their patient access API requirements. The availability of patient datasets should enable patients and their representatives (e.g., providers, wellness companies, healthcare information technology entities, etc.) to access their data and facilitate consumerism and more informed decision making in the healthcare ecosystem.
Multilevel Evaluations of SDOH Programs
In 2022, there will be an emphasis on actionable measurement approaches for capturing SDOH/social drivers through assessments and other data sources to support quality measurement efforts. Furthermore, I predict a greater investment in technical capacity building for partnerships to support innovative solutions to health equity through SDOH by government, private and corporate sources. SDOH and health disparities will continue to be at the forefront of policy initiatives. Additionally, we will begin to see the results and lessons learned from innovative new programs throughout the nation as organizations continue to scale their newer SDOH programs to either complex populations or lower risk populations. Leaders will need to rely on multilevel evaluation approaches (individual, operational, outcomes, and organizational) to support ROI and programmatic health outcome expectations. Finally, accreditation and credentialing will be explored in health equity and digital health engagement topics as organizations and regulatory bodies work to support standardization in these areas (e.g., NCQA’s Health Equity Accreditation release).
A Spotlight on Provider Data Accuracy
Did you know that based on analyzing our LexisNexis Risk Solutions data, in just one week, we see over 3,000 name changes, over 7,000 phone numbers changes, and a whopping 33,000 changes in address data all as it relates to provider data? Based on this, quality of provider data is often a top concern for payers and other healthcare stakeholders. Access to consistent quality data often equates to adhering to compliance standards, improving patient satisfaction, lowering barriers to care, and gaining efficiencies in data governance. All this combined adds up to cost savings and better health outcomes. While provider data accuracy is by no means a new topic, the narrative around its vital importance and legislation, such as the No Surprises Act, will continue to shine a spotlight on provider data accuracy. In 2022 we will see this story continue to unfold with new chapters as the No Surprises Final Rule is announced in the first quarter of the year specifically in the payer and provider space, as well as the increased regulations surrounding the opioid crisis and state license restriction making waves in the life sciences sphere. In short, organizations will continue to have a need for healthy provider data for the health of their business and the health of their patients.
Continued Patient Fallout Leading to an Uptick in Quick-Service Options
In 2022, we are going to continue to see the fallout of patients skimping on their healthcare during the COVID-19 pandemic. At LexisNexis Risk Solutions, we have already been able to track how the lack of cancer screenings have led to a significant decrease in the number of diagnosed cancer patients – spurring the concern that patients will receive diagnosis at a later stage, making it more difficult to treat and overcome. We’ll start seeing evidence of more advanced chronic conditions and difficult to treat diseases that have a correlation to the (hopefully temporary) lack of medical care. However, another of my healthcare predictions is that we are going to see pharmacies and walk-in clinics become more popular for healthcare services. Throughout the pandemic, we’ve become accustomed to quick-service options. The ability to go to a single location for both your prescriptions and your health services is a natural next step for our industry.
Healthcare Predictions in Summary
Time will tell what we see come true in 2022 and what shifts will be driven by the unknown. One thing is certain, this industry will continue to rapidly innovate, so I encourage you to circle back with us throughout the year to see where our predictions stand, see if they have evolved, and learn about our efforts to help improve healthcare for us all.
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