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10 Trends That Will Shape the Next Decade in Healthcare

Hospital staff standing together

The start of a new year and a new decade is an appropriate time to assess the state of affairs in terms of U.S. healthcare and think about major trends that are changing our industry. Sometimes healthcare begins to change direction due to factors that are largely beyond anyone’s control, like the demographic shifts and increase in longevity that will impact every area of the care continuum. Other developments like technological advances make care and outcomes possible that we once could only imagine. There also is the reality of policy changes and changed priorities for CMS and payors that have their own ripple effect on where healthcare is headed. Here are ten major healthcare trends that we all should be watching, both for their impact on the business and practice of healthcare, as well as in our own lives, when we and our loved ones next need to interact with the healthcare industry. 

Here are some trends to which we think everyone in healthcare should be paying attention: 

Over the next decade, doctors and nurses will be in short supply. 

The existing shortage of nurses and physicians will continue and become an even larger problem across many areas of healthcare. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), the United States will see a shortage of up to nearly 122,000 physicians by 2032 as demand for physicians continues to grow faster than supply. A similar problem looms within the nursing profession. 

U.S. Demographics Are Shifting 

The entire healthcare industry is going to feel the growing impact of a demographic change unlike any the United States has ever seen. The aging of our population, which some have called a “silver tsunami,” will only keep accelerating 

The Millennials Have Arrived 

Much has been made of the growing impact of the millennial generation on healthcare and especially the healthcare workforce. The 73 million millennials in the U.S are part of a larger group that now makes up a quarter of the global population. 

Provider Credentialing Will Change Significantly 

With their constant attention on patient safety, Medical Services Professionals (MSPs) are taking on more complex roles as the healthcare industry continues to shift to value-based care from the traditional volume-based model. 

Artificial Intelligence Will Transform Healthcare 

Artificial intelligence (AI) research and application within medicine is growing rapidly. In 2016, healthcare AI projects attracted more investment than AI projects within any other sector of the global economy. 

New Healthcare Roles Are Emerging 

As medicine evolves, new types of doctors and nurses are emerging to meet our system’s changing needs. In some cases, these clinicians are in new specialties that didn’t exist until recently, and demand for some of these physicians is already high. 

Cool Technology Is on the Horizon 

As in recent years, technology promises to transform more areas of healthcare, in both the near and more distant future. A 2019 Forbes article offers multiple examples where great changes and advances are expected. 

Retail Competition Is Heating Up 

Expectations about the convenience of healthcare are changing, exemplified by the embrace of healthcare within a retail environment. The New York Times reported in 2018 that people are now flocking to clinics and urgent care centers located in strip malls or shopping centers. 

The Year of the Mom 

The United States healthcare industry is long overdue in its need to be more focused on improving care during pregnancy and childbirth. According to Health Affairs, “reports finding that the U.S. has the worst maternal health outcomes in the developed world” (Devore, 2020), have led to greater attention from the government, politicians, and healthcare providers to improve the overall cost and quality of maternal health care 

Issues across the Care Continuum 

As America ages at an increased pace, the impact will be felt across the care continuum. Senior living will be especially affected as it works to adopt a medical model that also blends aspects of the hospitality and healthcare industries. Concurrently, older adults’ expectations about their accommodations continue to rise, even as their medical needs increase. 

This blog post is an introduction to the longer HealthStream article, Trends That Will Shape the Next Decade in Healthcare. Focused on the People Providing Healthcare. HealthStream is committed to helping customers address and solve big problems in healthcare. From hospitals to long-term care and across the care continuum, there are challenges stemming from demographic changes, governmental mandates, and the need for higher care quality. 

HealthStream is dedicated to improving patient outcomes through the development of healthcare organizations' greatest asset: their people. Our solutions are contracted by organizations in the U.S. for healthcare workforce development, training & learning management, talent management, credentialing, privileging, provider enrollment, performance assessment, and managing simulation-based education programs. We help organizations strengthen the revenue cycle, improve care transitions, increase retention, reduce risk, plan for leadership succession, and be more compliant—to name just a few of the ways we help care providers. What unites us is our philosophy that “every patient deserves the best possible workforce.” 

Download the webinar, Ten Healthcare Trends for 2020, where Robin Rose, Vice President, Healthcare Resources Group, HealthStream discusses this information in detail.