DAYTON – Midmark Corp., a leading provider of medical, dental and veterinary equipment, technology and services, identified six trends that will significantly affect the point of care ecosystem, where the majority of today’s health care encounters still occur.
“Arguably, the time shared between a provider and patient is the most important aspect of the health care journey. Medical, dental and veterinary providers work with patients to conduct annual checkups, dental cleanings and procedures, as well as validate possible diagnoses and make sure chronic conditions are well managed,” said Dr. Tom Schwieterman, Midmark’s chief medical officer. “Change in health care has accelerated to a point where rapid innovation is not just a business advantage but a business imperative. There is extreme pressure on health care organizations to be at the forefront of this change to ensure valuable interaction and relationships occurring at the point of care remain intact.”
Below are the six identified trends that will shape how care is delivered at the point of care in 2020:
1. Data analytics drives the next step in enhanced care and outcomes
Having sufficient and accurate data is the life blood of good medicine. As connected technology and devices are introduced in ambulatory care, they are paving the way for digitization of the point of care ecosystem. This greater connectivity is allowing providers to capture more data at the point of care than was previously possible. In certain cases, home data can be more accurate and relevant and may be invaluable to augment a future patient visit.
On a larger scale, advanced analytical engines that are being used to examine genomic, population health and social determinants data are ushering in a more personalized level of care for individuals. Using advanced computing capabilities, artificial intelligence and machine learning systems are being employed to determine risk profiles such that clinical teams can more appropriately target interventions, strengthening customized screening scenarios, insights into behavioral modifications and targeted therapeutics.
2. Primary care steals spotlight back from specialists
In a reversal of a trend where more care was being referred to specialists, primary care is seeing a resurgence of relevance and expanding capabilities. Primary care physicians are being empowered and better equipped to do more for their patients, including provide comprehensive and sophisticated interventions at the point of care. Primary care is becoming increasingly armed with smaller patient cohorts and a fully holistic approach to care.
Likewise, in dentistry and veterinary medicine, general practitioners are beginning to offer more specialized and complex procedures. In both areas, this trend is gaining strength as practitioners see it as a viable strategy to improve customer retention and revenue that have been challenged with the growth of Dental Support Organizations, disruptive channel innovators, corporate veterinary groups and mass-marketed online merchandisers.
3. Customer experience takes hold in health care
Research has shown that a good experience with a physician, dentist or veterinarian is impactful to the health and well-being of the patient. The quality of interaction the patient or pet owner has with the provider and the broader care team can translate to a better understanding of the clinical situation and a higher likelihood of all participants becoming activated to get more involved, which can improve health and lower costs.
Patients and pet owners are expecting and demanding a better experience for themselves and their pets when they visit medical, dental and veterinary offices. They want the same type of experience they receive from other retail and service industries. There is more attention being given to how patients, pet owners and providers engage and interact at the point of care. This is driving a focus on everything from practice design for comfort, efficiencies and workflow to technology that enables better patient care plans.
4. Self-empowered patients take control of their care
Driven in part by the consumerization of health care, patients are demanding to be connected with and in control of their health care in the same way they are within other aspects of their lives. Wearable technology, online clinical information, vastly expanded options for care access and new technologies to diagnose and treat at the individual level are changing how people engage in their health care.
Self-guided and self-diagnosis care are becoming plausible options. Readily available technologies like smart watches and fitness trackers, as well as apps that help patients manage chronic conditions, are allowing patients to be more proactive with their own health care. They often choose to engage with a provider only after they do their own research. Pressure is growing for health care organizations to incorporate these devices and tools into workflows and the care continuum. A new level of empowerment also is taking hold within veterinary medicine, as pet owners use technology, such as health tracker apps, to take more control of their pet’s health and preventative care.
5. Risk shifts from insurers to providers
Traditionally, insurance companies have existed to manage risk within populations of health care patients. The insurer absorbed the risk while the provider was guaranteed a payment mechanism. The advent of value-based payments is causing a change to that model. Increasingly, the provider is absorbing the risk. This is being done to both control costs and align the interests of stakeholders.
This shifting of risk is changing the relationship between vendors, payers, providers and health care systems in fundamental ways. These players are beginning to work more closely together to improve value. More equipment, technology and solutions are being designed to boost the clinical and financial performance of providers while improving patient health.
6. A healthy body begins with the mouth becomes best practice
An increasing amount of clinical evidence is demonstrating that the health and wellness of the oral cavity (i.e., teeth, gums and dentition) is critical to the overall health of the patient, whether that patient be a person or animal. Oral pathology is directly linked to multiple systemic illnesses. According to the Academy of General Dentistry, more than 90 percent of all systemic diseases produce oral symptoms.
A growing majority of the health care community understands that holistic interventions to improve outcomes in many disorders require care teams to look to the mouth. They see treating the mouth and oral cavity as essential to lowering costs and improving disease outcomes. As a result, more effort and point of care solutions are being focused on aligning the dental and medical worlds. On the animal health side, the demand for oral health products and services continues to grow with increased understanding that animal dentistry can improve the quality and lifespan of pets.
“Medical, dental and veterinary equipment and technology continues to evolve to provide health care organizations the new approaches, innovative technologies and proven solutions to improve the quality of care and outcomes delivered and enable a better care experience for caregivers and patients at the point of care,” Schwieterman said.