Top Healthcare Trends to Watch for in 2023

From treatment to the patient experience, opportunity abounds even when circumstances aren’t favorable for growth. It’s important to remember that adversity spurs innovation, and the pandemic is a great example of this. 

Three years ago, most providers would have scoffed at the idea of remote health and self-service payment technologies. Today, it’s not only the norm, it’s necessary to meet the ever-evolving preferences of patients. 

With this fact in mind, we turn our attention to 2023 and the trends to come.

Looking Back: 2022 in Review

Before jumping into what’s coming, examining 2022 can provide us with some helpful context. Here is a snapshot of some of the most prominent healthcare trends of 2022. 

No Surprises Act 

Right at the start of the year, the No Surprises Act came into effect.

Designed to protect consumers from surprise out-of-network medical bills, healthcare providers had to quickly adapt to comply—or face a penalty of up to $10,000 per violation.

As a result, providers continue to explore ways to guarantee pricing transparency, offer financing options, keep patient data up to date, and ensure medical billing practices are accurate. 

Staffing Crisis

Healthcare staffing was a significant challenge for the industry in 2022.

After COVID, burnout rates soared. Hiring and retaining healthcare professionals became difficult.

In turn, not having enough staff meant greater workloads, longer wait times for patients, and a lackluster patient experience. 

The crisis highlighted the need for healthcare organizations to prioritize the well-being of their employees, and implement strategies to attract and retain a sufficient workforce. It also demonstrated the necessity of improving the patient experience through self-service payment options to mitigate staff shortages.  

Digital Health Advancements

Amazon has been dabbling in the health industry since 2018, when it announced it would allow other employers to offer Amazon Care as a benefit. 

The retail giant’s healthcare ambitions have seemingly expanded with the announcement of its planned $4 billion acquisition of One Medical. This solidifies Amazon’s presence in the healthcare industry with a primary care program directly marketed to consumers.

While Amazon’s goal is to “reinvent” healthcare, we have yet to see how this takeover will impact the patient experience

Booming M&A Activity 

Merger and acquisition activity was strong throughout 2022: over 50 transactions totaling $45 billion in revenue.

Some of the most notable mergers included: 

  • Advocate Aurora Health and Atrium Health: $27 billion.
  • Sanford Health and Fairview Health Services: $14 billion. 
  • UnitedHealth Group and Change Healthcare: $7.8 billion.
  • CVS and Signify Health: $8 billion. 

The M&A volume was mostly to acquire technology to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs. This trend was particularly evident in the telemedicine and digital health sectors.

2023 Healthcare Trends to Watch

We’re less than two months into 2023, but we already have a pretty clear picture of what to expect this year. It will be interesting to see how these anticipated trends play out, and what new developments arise in the coming year. 

1. Labor Shortages Will Likely Continue

The labor fallout from the pandemic has not subsided just yet.

Labor shortages are expected to continue throughout 2023, from nursing staff all the way up to executive levels. By the end of 2022, around 75% of healthcare executives experienced feelings of burnout.

Increased turnover, continually rising labor costs, and lucrative contract options are all factors putting financial pressure on healthcare facilities.  

To avoid an outcome where demand outpaces available workers, administrators may need to overhaul full-time compensation packages to provide better pay, work support, and working conditions for staff at all levels.

2. More Medicare Advantage Plans Will Be Available 

Analysts predict that by the end of 2023, more than half of all Medicare beneficiaries will choose a Medicare Advantage plan over Original Medicare.

Medicare Advantage plans are soaring in popularity, and beneficiaries now have the most Medicare plan options available to them than at any single point in the last decade. 

However, Congress is proposing new rules to battle claims that Medicare Advantage is over-reimbursed more frequently than Original Medicare. These rules would require prior authorizations and the adjustment of some processes to improve affordability and accessibility. We should have more clarity as we move further in 2023.

3. PBM Disruption Should Intensify 

Consumer demands are prompting the rise of retail healthcare, especially when it comes to prescription drugs.

As pharmacy business management (PBM) continues to decentralize, new players are popping up

Mark Cuban launched the online pharmacy Cost Plus Drugs to expand access to lower-cost medications and provide pricing transparency. Rightway is the first PBM to join the Cost Plus Drugs network, setting the stage for more relationships between new solutions and traditional PBMs. 

Putting the drug supply chain under one roof will ignite competition as PBM disruptors like Cost Plus, Amazon’s RxPass, and Capital RX control prices. 

4. “Personalized Healthcare” Moves to Payments 

Personalization is becoming the rule, not the exception.

Consumers want personalized treatment options tailored to their individual needs, instead of a one-size-fits-all approach.

Personalization doesn’t end in the exam room: it’s now extending into the patient payment experience. Consumers want to understand their financial responsibility and have the opportunity to select from a variety of payment options. 

Patients should be able to choose how, where, and when to pay, as well as receive personalized communication.

To enjoy greater levels of patient loyalty, shorter revenue cycles, and an overall boost in revenue, in 2023, you will need to tailor payment options to each individual patient’s needs, as well as remove any payment barriers they might experience.

5. Healthcare Will Drive IoT Technology 

It’s no longer the internet of things…it’s the internet of healthcare things, and it will bring an expected market of $267.6 billion in 2023

In 2023 there will be more than 40 billion devices connected to the internet. This will offer providers the capability to monitor patients in real-time through wearable medical devices (known as Remote Patient Monitoring, or RPM), so patients can get surgical follow-up or routine monitoring right from their couch.

Think of smart medication dispensers, thermometers, and ultrasounds. Connected devices can offer many benefits, from cost savings for both providers and patients to an increase in efficiency. 

As IoT becomes more mainstream, patients will be able to take on a more proactive role in monitoring and regulating their own health—fitness tracking is just the beginning.

6. Medicaid Continuous Enrollment Will End

The Medicaid continuous enrollment provision of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) will end in March of this year.

This provision, which required Medicaid programs to maintain coverage for most enrollees throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, resulted in a substantial increase in program enrollment (as high as 28% since 2020). Now that continuous enrollment is ending, millions of low-income families will be left searching for affordable health insurance. 

While CMS requires that states develop operational strategies for how they will navigate the unwinding process, we will likely experience a period of massive coverage loss. How states approach the unwinding process will ultimately determine the percentage of eligible enrollees that are able to retain coverage. 

If administrative paperwork and response plans prove too burdensome, we are likely to see an increase in the total number of U.S. citizens without health insurance coverage, as well as a significant drop in provider revenue.

To learn more about the unwinding of the Medicaid continuous enrollment provision, check out this great write-up by the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Get Ahead of the 2023 With AccessOne 

By analyzing past trends and understanding future ones, healthcare organizations can stay on top of consumer preferences, while they adapt and innovate for future success. For one, personalized payments will only get stronger in 2023. Ride into the future with AccessOne and boost your organization’s revenue. Contact us or request a demo today. 

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