MDs may be more interested in DIY health services than patients are

By Brian Dolan
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PwC HRI 2015 TrendsPricewaterhouseCoopers' Health Research Institute (HRI) published a report on top trends for the health industry in 2015, which was based on findings from a survey of 1,000 consumers in the US and additional interviews with healthcare executives.

“With consumers leading the way, bearing more costs and making more decisions, change is erupting throughout the health industry,” Kelly Barnes, PwC's US health industries leader said in a statement. “Established healthcare companies and new entrants are rapidly developing cost-efficient products and services tailored directly to consumers.”

The survey found that 68 percent of consumers said they were concerned about the security of their smartphone health app data, while 78 percent were concerned about medical data security. Interestingly, the survey found that consumer interest in DIY healthcare products and services might be lagging behind physician interest. One-third of US consumers said they would use a home urinalysis device, while more than 50 percent of physicians surveyed said they would use data from such a device to treat patients or decide whether they need to come in for a visit.

Here are the firm's top 10 issues for the healthcare industry next year are: 

1. Do-it-yourself healthcare -- "U.S. physicians and consumers are ready to embrace a dramatic expansion of the high-tech, personal medical kit. Wearable tech, smartphone-linked devices and mobile apps will become increasingly valuable in care delivery."

2. Making the leap from mobile app to medical device -- "A proliferation of approved and portable medical devices in patients’ homes, and on their phones, makes diagnosis and treatment more convenient, redoubling the need for strong information security systems."

3. Balancing privacy and convenience -- "Privacy will lose ground to convenience in 2015 as patients adopt digital tools and services that gather and analyze health information."

4. High-cost patients spark cost-saving innovations -- "The soaring cost of care for Medicare and Medicaid 'dual eligibles', aging boomers and patients with co-morbidities will foster creative care delivery and management systems."

5. Putting a price on positive outcomes -- "With high-priced new products and specialty drugs slated to hit the market in 2015 increasing demand for new evidence and definitions of positive health outcomes are expected."

6. Open everything to everyone -- "New transparency initiatives targeting clinical trial data, real-world patient outcomes and financial relationships between physicians and pharmaceutical companies will improve patient care and open new opportunities."

7. Getting to know the newly insured -- "2015 will be a revelatory year for the U.S. health sector as a portrait of the newly-insured emerges, fostering better care management programs and shifting marketing strategies."

8. Physician extenders see an expanded role in patient care -- "Physician 'extenders' are becoming the first line of care for many patients, as doctors delegate tasks, monitor patients digitally and enter into risk-based payment models."

9. Redefining health and well-being for the millennial generation -- "As the economy rebounds and baby boomers retire, employers and insurers look for fresh ways to engage, retain and attract the next generation of health consumers."

10. Partner to win -- "In 2015, joint ventures, open collaboration platforms and non-traditional partnerships will push healthcare companies out of the comfort zone toward new competitive strategies."