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The 9 HealthTech Trends That Will Shape 2021

Exponential Health

Welcome to the inaugural edition of our new HealthTech innovation column, Exponential Health by Unqork's Olya Ossipova.

Last year was, to put it mildly, a tumultuous one for the healthcare industry (and the world). It was a crash course in incident response, and as an industry, we discovered the limits of our contemporary practices and tools and were compelled to innovate—quickly.

Exponential HealthWhile the pandemic will continue to shape and impact our industry for years to come—it’s not the only force at work. Looking forward to 2021, we’ve identified nine key drivers influencing decisions made by providers, payers, and life sciences organizations around the world. Many of these trends were catalyzed by the events of the past 12 months, while others have been years in the making. Still, they all share one thing in common—technological innovation will be central to how the industry responds.

1. User Experience 

Thanks to digital advancements in various consumer-facing industries, patients have come to expect streamlined, beautiful, and easy-to-navigate digital experiences. Too often, the external- and internal-facing digital solutions in our industry pale in comparison to sleek omnichannel UXs in other consumer sectors. 

While the pandemic will continue to shape and impact our industry for years to come—it’s not the only force at work. ​

To promote user adoption and community engagement, we expect organizations to prioritize high-quality user-oriented digital experiences. While a modern digital UI may have once been a “nice-to-have,” it is becoming an increasingly important business consideration directly tied to patient satisfaction. Consider the findings of one recent survey, which found that 82% of patients agreed that, “It should be as easy to get healthcare on my mobile device as it is to order food or a car/rideshare.” Organizations that prioritize developing a modern omnichannel patient experience will have a powerful competitive differentiator.

2. Accessible Care via Connected Health 

The events of the past year have forced healthcare to develop digital channels for engaging with patients remotely, securely, and safely. Reports show that telehealth visits surged 50% in March of last year at the start of the pandemic. While these experiences were novel for many patients, data indicates that they have grown used to them and will continue to use them post-COVID. Consider a recent J.D. Power survey, which found that “the overall customer satisfaction score for telehealth services is 860 (on a 1,000-point scale), which is among the highest of all healthcare, insurance, and financial services industry studies.” 

While telehealth services provide an added layer of convenience for some patients, they can be a game-changer for patients who, due to physical or economic barriers, cannot easily travel on-site to meet with a physician. Beyond direct telehealth engagements, new forms of home technologies and wearables will allow physicians to collect data to better understand patient issues without requiring an on-site visit.

Even as the pandemic ebbs, expect to see a rise in connected health solutions that seamlessly integrate telehealth, remote patient monitoring, home-based care, patient education, and other essential services delivered via a unified patient-centered platform. 

3. Interoperability + Data Access 

As the 21st Century Cures Act and the Final Rule finally go into effect, the industry is barreling forward into the long-awaited push to promote data accessibility. These changes mandate that organizations provide patients with open pathways to access and control their health data across providers and payers. This new paradigm will also enable healthcare organizations to more readily access EHR data (when permitted) to streamline and optimize digital experiences and processes. Organizations will need to develop digital solutions that will allow them to comply with these long-anticipated standards.

While telehealth services provide an added layer of convenience for some patients, they can be a game-changer for patients who, due to physical or economic barriers, cannot easily travel on-site to meet with a physician. 

4. EHR-Enabled Patient Recruitment 

As government-mandated EHR interoperability becomes implemented, expect to see value-add for life sciences organizations. One of the great potentials is a more-accessible path to EHR-enabled patient recruitment and support for data-driven decision making and optimization.

5. Cost Transparency

In parallel with the interoperability requirements, expect the industry to continue taking steps toward increasing cost transparency across both payer and provider organizations. To adapt to this new paradigm, providers will have to drive process efficiencies to compete in a more transparent marketplace and support the delivery of value-based care.

6. Personalized Care

Personalized care has been—and continues to be—a significant trend in healthcare. We expect a continued focus on optimized treatment plans, services, and overall experience to meet individual patients’ unique needs. Once again, this trend is being galvanized by ascendant digital technologies that allow organizations to make better use of patient data from multiple sources and efficiently apply it at scale.

Watch our recent webinar to learn how organizations are using no-code to address evolving patient demands

7. Care Delivery + Coordination

Operationalizing and scaling care coordination and case management is an increasingly crucial consideration throughout the industry. Addressing this trend is a three-fold endeavor: 1) On the back-end, organizations must develop the capabilities to streamline data ingestion from a wide variety of disparate sources; 2) on the front-end, organizations must develop tailored omnichannel UIs to connect patients with quality care and services; and 3) on top of it all, organizations must develop the abilities to efficiently track and report on patient data to improve health outcomes, including aggregate outputs related to social determinants of health. 

8. Decentralized Clinical Trials + Patient Engagement 

The disruptions of COVID-19 have shined a light on the potential and growing need for decentralized clinical trials. As a result, there is a renewed interest in the industry to use digital channels for the recruitment and monitoring of trial participants and to support long-term engagement. We expect life sciences organizations to increasingly embrace solutions that will allow them to efficiently conduct trials in a way that de-emphasizes on-site and on-person engagements when possible, without sacrificing on trial integrity.

9. Privacy + Cybersecurity

Privacy and cybersecurity concerns have been and continue to be top-of-mind for healthcare organizations. As the move toward digital services gains momentum, the web and mobile device threat vectors will only be larger targets. It’s ever more critical to test, monitor, and meet cybersecurity best practices to protect PHI and other sensitive data.  

Want to learn more about how we can help accelerate transformation in your organization? Email Olya Ossipova with any questions, or schedule a personalized demonstration with one of our in-house experts.


About the Author

For the better part of a decade, Olya Ossi has focused on digital transformation and innovation in healthcare. Prior to Unqork, Olya was the head of operations at a healthcare technology consulting firm, serving as general manager and consultant for clients in the healthcare, government, and nonprofit sectors.

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