There’s a growing feeling of uncertainty, and even anxiety surrounding the topic of healthcare and how to afford it in the USA. Unfortunately, government itself is partly responsible for this upset as it continues to try to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) without quite nailing down exactly what will be the replacement or whether it will even be an improvement.
Added onto this are three things that continue to advance within the field of medicine that, ready or not, are going to have an impact on healthcare in America. All healthcare providers need to be aware of these trends because their impact is unavoidable.
On the good side of things, progress in medical and pharmaceutical research continues at a good pace. This means that new treatments, drugs, and medical technologies are always either being theorized, being developed, or even in the early stages of trials and prototyping, meaning soon they will be ready to be manufactured en masse, or deployed for use in hospitals and other treatment settings.
This continued advancement in medical technologies has many broad effects, from new types of apps and accessories that patients themselves can use, to improvements in standards, collation and accessibility of EHRs. These make it easier for both medical professionals—and even patients themselves—to have better, more convenient and accurate access to important medical data. Advances like this can be important in improving the patient experience, which benefits both healthcare providers and the patients themselves.
An Aging Demographic
Of course, with advances in medical treatments and technologies the expected—and desired—consequence of this is an increased lifespan. Patients that may have formerly succumbed to illnesses can now overcome them and enjoy longer lives. This means that America, as with many first world nations, such as Japan, will be dealing with a sizable senior population, and that brings its own set of medical challenges.
Regardless of whether the ACA will support them or not, an aging demographic also tends to require a bit more medical attention, especially with regards to the chronic diseases that an aging population is more vulnerable to. This is likely to mean that in the future, new techniques such as telemedicine will become more important for treating less serious medical requests, allowing the aged and infirm to remain at home, and reducing the amount of time required for a diagnosis and treatment or prescription.
Because of the combination of technology, advances in medical treatments and the ongoing development of new protocols and standards in the EHR field, there is a renewed emphasis on a much more individualized approach to both medical treatment and medical data processing. EHR technology, when combined with the “cloud” or online storage, as well as “smart systems” or “virtual medicine” make it possible for patients to collect their own medical data and even have it constantly transmitted to relevant systems.
New devices and software can now be incorporated into a patient’s lifestyle, allowing for data monitoring, data collection and even notification of new medical developments. All of this can be coordinated with the EHR and relevant medical experts to provide a much more consistent, carefully monitored medical experience.
While these are all potentially interesting ways for medicine to advance, there’s still the matter of how they will mesh with whatever the ACA becomes. However, regardless of what the ACA itself eventually does turn into, these trends are coming.
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