It’s the end of the year – an opportune time to forecast how 2011 will unfold in health care. We are likely to see some surprises, such as the sharply rising importance of primary care physicians.
Here are some predictions about the new year:
More consolidation is on its way in healthcare under Obamacare, which heightens the pressure to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery. As part of this, more and more healthcare provider groups, even the small ones, will feel compelled to go electronic once and for all.
Valuable new, cost-effective medical tools will begin to become widely embraced. One is telemedicine. Just imagine how much more effective doctors can be if they interact with patients remotely via cameras. The technology exists now, has been successfully used in a number of situations, and it is not expensive. Soon insurance reimbursement models will permit and remunerate physicians for telemedicine “visits,” and then this will take off.
The use of genetic testing to segment patient populations and better target therapies will be one of the fastest growing segments of healthcare as a new wave of accurate, clinically actionable tests hits the market.
As health reform increasingly kicks in, there will be heightened emphasis on the importance of primary care physicians – a sharp contrast to the elevated importance of specialists for so many years. They will become the linchpins of health care and make more pivotal care decisions as more than 30 million more people enter the healthcare system and require access to them.