Wednesday, January 29, 2020

5 Factors Impacting the Decentralization of Healthcare

The healthcare industry today is going through a shift, becoming a lot less siloed after centuries of resisting change. The current healthcare trend is heading in the direction of decentralization owing to rapid technological developments, and in this new model, the healthcare system is always on the go, never pausing.

Constant communications are now facilitated, too, across all environments that we inhabit. The result is a truly interlinked system of information and services that is persistently optimizing the individual’s access to healthcare. This technological shift has done wonders in helping to break down the divide between healthcare providers and their clients.

And as the former barriers continue to dissolve, individuals are going to be given even more control over their healthcare choices. Better still, there is expected to be greater room for innovation as new players and actors enter the healthcare scene.

What exactly is the decentralization of healthcare?

When people talk about decentralization, they are usually referring to a broad range of power-transfer systems and liability measures. Decentralization policies vary, however, and may include the transfer of limited power to lower levels of management within the healthcare system.

Decentralization policies are also designed to reform the healthcare system in a way that will allow the provision of even the most centralized services--bringing them within reach of the masses.
The promise of decentralization is appealing to many due to the associated benefits. Some of these include:
  • Improving the way in which health programs are implemented;
  • Reducing inequalities between urban and rural areas;
  • Improving accountability and transparency levels;
  • Improving the way service is delivered as well as how healthcare services are utilized;
  • Delivering an enhanced capacity for planning.
So what are some of the factors impacting the decentralization of healthcare?

1. Machine learning and artificial intelligence

Machine learning and artificial intelligence in healthcare are inevitable within a contemporary healthcare system. Not only are they going to help improve the way diseases are diagnosed, but illnesses will also be treated more accurately. The result will be a healthcare system that engages with patients more efficiently.

Additionally, machine learning and artificial intelligence are expected to streamline the way healthcare organizations run, all while restoring sanity to the entire clinic experience.

Machine learning will play a crucial role in numerous health-related spheres, including the advancement of new medical procedures. It will transform the way patient data and records are handled, as well as improve the way chronic diseases are approached and treated, just to mention a few benefits.

2. Disruption of the healthcare device market by software

While technological advancements have been changing almost every field, no industry has been more impacted than the healthcare sector.

Developments in tech and advancements in software over the past few years have paved the way for implausible adjustments in the field of healthcare. These changes not only have the potential to drive the healthcare industry forward and to make it more accessible, but also to reduce the general cost of healthcare by making it more data-centric, streamlined and organized.

Medical software is now making it possible for the medical field to experiment and advance. Thanks to advances in medical software, the ‘internet of things’ is simultaneously constantly evolving. Now, artificial intelligence is continually being utilized to carry out tasks traditionally operated by humans--yet AI does it in a more efficient, consistent and cost-friendly manner.

The potential for medical software in healthcare is vast and will continue to grow as technology continues to advance.

3. The shift toward value-based care

Patient-centered care has become a hotly debated issue in healthcare circles. Traditionally, volume-based care has always been the norm in contexts where fees are typically exchanged for services. However, this is rapidly changing today, and healthcare organizations are now trying to focus their care toward individuals. 

Now, fees are paid against value (so-called value-based care), which then causes healthcare providers to offer their best levels of care at the lowest cost possible. Thanks to this model, patients can start receiving value for their hard-earned money.

Since value-based care takes on a more holistic approach, it has made it so much easier to keep track of a patient’s journey through the healthcare system. Though this value-based system of healthcare may still be growing and evolving, it shows a lot of promise in the decentralization of healthcare.

4. Disruption of the business model

As decentralization continues to become a reality, existing companies must now adapt their business models and adjust their relationships with technology.

Existing healthcare systems will now be forced to go to great lengths to adopt new technology, and many healthcare providers and organizations are already investing in this as new entrants continue to join the industry every year.

Early tech players in the game have already experienced the continuing changes in the healthcare system. But new entrants are quickly discovering that consumers are switching on to enhanced functionality and capabilities--factors that allow them to better interact with the products than they could before. Legacy companies that refuse to accept the imminent change will continue to struggle, so must either change or ship out.

5. The continued influence of consumerism

Today, patients have the freedom to own and access their data and they are more plugged in than they have ever been, as a result of continued technological growth.

Consumerism in healthcare is here to stay as patients continue to become more empowered in the wake of emergent financial responsibility.

As a result of consumerism, patients are now more prepared than ever to interact with the medical industry as customers rather than passive patients. As such, patient expectations regarding healthcare experiences have transformed, and healthcare providers are now doing everything they can to meet patient expectations.

This continued level of consumerism has given patients more power, as well as increased responsibility for their healthcare choices. As individuals become more responsible for their healthcare, anyone engaging in these new payment models can, for example, opt to pay for generic or name-brand drugs, choose between specialty and primary care, or select any other treatment options that will affect the quality of care they receive and the total cost they’re billed for it.


What does a decentralized hospital look like today?

Today’s decentralized healthcare delivery model is one that takes the focus away from the hospital. A decentralized system also features the heavy use of technological advancements such as virtual health and remote monitoring.

This is a guest blog post.

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