2023 is about to end and it was a significant year for healthcare as the industry shifted its focus towards previously overlooked areas. Although many of these issues are still being addressed, the COVID-19 pandemic also served as a turning point for the healthcare industry to transform itself and seize opportunities that can positively impact the sector in the long run. This is apparent even now, more than 3 years after the outbreak.
The pandemic put an immense strain on global healthcare systems, resulting in the emergence of systemic issues and disparities in health equity. The healthcare industry has exhibited innovative work methodologies, enhanced practices, and an embrace of previously disregarded or shunned technologies from patients and healthcare professionals.
We’ve analyzed current healthcare trends in 2023 and identified five realms that will undoubtedly change the healthcare landscape moving forward. We believe prioritizing these areas will be critical to maintain competitiveness in the industry.
Climate change and increasing emissions undeniably present substantial risks to human health, due to related environmental and weather-related issues.
Healthcare systems must prepare to confront these challenges, which require resilience and sustainable strategies. Health organizations must be ready to provide care, maintain medicine flow, and assist in weather-related disease outbreaks in the aftermath of natural disasters. They should also implement waste reduction measures.
Supply chains are the primary source of emissions and sustainability concerns, and healthcare has a critical role in mitigating their carbon footprint and waste. In 2023, there has been a significant and necessary emphasis on enhancing supply chain sustainability. Global strategies to address climate issues are advancing gradually, but companies and organizations are acknowledging the problem’s impact and taking responsibility by implementing internal policies aimed at reducing emissions and adopting eco-friendly practices.
2. Digitalization and AI
There has been a significant increase in digitalization across healthcare and other industries. Research suggests that investment in digital technology has nearly doubled each year, with emphasis placed on telehealth and mental health. Some of this growth is also supported by tech companies increasingly turning their focus to healthcare.
Historically, patients and clinicians have had difficulty adopting new technologies. But today, healthcare digitization and telemedicine are advancing as the industry strives to reduce costs, address changing demand patterns, mitigate workforce shortages, and better prepare for future global health crises. The advancements in digitalization and AI guarantee that healthcare organizations can now exchange information with reliability and security, provide patients with monitoring devices, conduct more precise diagnoses, administer personalized treatments, and predict potential risks or deterioration to intervene early.
However, technology implementation can have potential drawbacks. For instance, migration to the cloud can result in environmental issues, as well as cybersecurity challenges. Yet, numerous healthcare executives firmly believe that digital enhancements are the future of the industry.
3. Alternative care solutions
Care provision outside of hospitals is crucial and is increasingly acknowledged in homes and communities. Actually, expenditure on healthcare provision and care at home is anticipated to surpass spending in almost every other area. It is also used to develop home diagnostics, drug delivery systems, and devices for monitoring patients – offering more point of care options.
Virtual health services address multiple healthcare challenges, such as providing equitable diagnostic and treatment access for vulnerable and underserved populations, adapting to changing environments while maintaining optimal care, and combatting clinician burnout. Additionally, virtual health technology has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery globally.
Healthcare providers also benefit from this technological advancement and home-based support. Patient wearables enable more accurate and accessible data sharing between all stakeholders, promoting smoother collaboration with health insurers. By reducing administration, travel time, and the physical workload of clinical staff, patient wearables address burnout among clinical staff – a significant health issue.
Virtual healthcare has revolutionized patient care and has even welcomed larger technology and retail companies as new players. Technology has also increased the number of available options, allowing patients and providers to choose hybrid delivery methods that blend in-person and home-based care to meet the increasing demand from an aging global population and support mental health management.
4. Mental health awareness and focus
The pandemic had a profound impact on healthcare workers, who were already dealing with high levels of stress and overwork. As a result, many professionals decided to leave the field, exacerbating both mental health problems and burnout, while recruitment rates plummeted. Unfortunately, the repercussions of these events still linger, and the onerous demands of the system continue to hinder efforts towards improvement.
Nevertheless, today, governments, non-profit organizations, and private companies are placing a greater emphasis on supporting the mental health of both healthcare workers and patients. They recognize the importance of investing in mental health and aim to serve their communities for the long haul.
Healthcare organizations are engaging employees in decision-making and ensuring that frontline workers have input as mental health takes on a greater focus in the future of healthcare systems.
Convenient, easy-to-use digital platforms are now available to all employees in-house. These platforms offer non-clinical methods of healing through art, music, exercise, and nature-based interventions.
The prioritization of adequate health worker staffing and compensation has been implemented. Additionally, the use of AI and technological innovation has simplified administrative tasks and reduced physical workload and paperwork.
5. Precision medicine and diagnostics
In 2023, advances in precision medicine and diagnosis technologies have revolutionized healthcare, offering individualized and targeted methods for diagnosis and treatment.
Precision medicine is a cutting-edge healthcare approach that factors in the distinctive genetic, environmental, and lifestyle disparities of every patient.
New genetic analysis technologies allow doctors and researchers to examine a patient’s genetic information carefully, identifying gene mutations and differences that alter their disease risk, treatment responses, and general health.
Studies and practice throughout 2023 have demonstrated that personalized treatments offer greater benefits with fewer side effects as they target specific molecular pathways that contribute to specific diseases in individual patients.
In 2023, there were significant advancements in diagnostics that improved accurate, timely, and non-invasive disease detection and monitoring.
Key factors included: Advanced imaging technology has become increasingly precise, allowing for early and accurate disease detection, and Liquid Biopsies identify disease-related molecular markers, such as those associated with cancer, providing real-time data about disease status.
Precision medicine and diagnostic advancements are revolutionizing healthcare by enabling early disease diagnosis and personalized treatment, while promoting a preventative and proactive approach to medicine. These innovations have ensured that patients receive more precise, streamlined, and patient-focused care.
Outlook for 2024
Looking ahead to the future of healthcare in 2024, we can expect improvements and fresh prospects. The advancements and breakthroughs from the past year have set the stage for a top-tier healthcare system that puts a premium on patients, sustainability, and technology.
The healthcare industry’s commitment to sustainability, digital tech, alternative care, mental wellness support, and precision medicine enables it to swiftly adapt to the ever-changing demands of patients and healthcare professionals. With such strong foundations, we anticipate a year that not only tackles past obstacles but propels us toward a healthcare future that is more equitable, productive, and prioritizes the health of individuals and communities.