The healthcare industry is constantly changing, aiming to keep up with new technology and the needs of patients. Here are some of the ways we can expect healthcare to change in the coming years.
More information is readily available to us than ever before, including information about healthcare and medical problems. It is now completely normal for people to look up possible causes of the symptoms they have before they go to the doctor, as well as seek out more information about a diagnosis they’ve been given. This makes it much easier to become more informed about our health.
Another important factor is the increasing use of electronic medical records. Not only can doctors and hospitals around the country access your medical records electronically (with your permission, of course), at some medical practices people can access their own medical records online. This is something we can definitely expect to become much more common in the coming years.
The population of the United States has been changing rapidly over the past few decades. With much more racial and ethnic diversity than there used to be, the average age of the population has increased. Larger numbers of people are living further into old age than ever before, and this older population has its own unique set of needs that the healthcare industry needs to keep up with.
There’s also a greater disparity in wealth than ever before. While there are a lot of people who can afford to pay for any healthcare they may need, there are even more who struggle to pay for their medical care, or forgo it altogether because they can’t afford it.
While there is an increasing demand for healthcare services, the number of people going into the field of medicine hasn’t kept up with the demand. The high number of uninsured patients and decrease in Medicare and Medicaid payments in the last decade have placed a heavy financial burden on health care providers, from the largest hospitals to the smallest family clinics. There’s also the added difficulty of obtaining the necessary funding for operating a medical practice, making medical resources more limited than they have been in previous years.
American healthcare companies are looking to expand overseas, not only to meet the demands of local populations but also to participate in medical tourism. Roughly 25% of patients said they’d be willing to travel outside the US for a medical procedure, and having US operated medical centers would make it easier for people to do so. Drug companies are also looking beyond our borders for new markets, especially since US drug sales are predicted to drop 31% by 2015.
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