Trend 1: COVID-19 is a concern.

"We now know we will co-exist with COVID-19 at some point in the foreseeable future with no hard stop," Rick Pollack (President and CEO of AMA) writes in the AMA’s 2022 Environmental Scan. "This will continue affecting not only the nation's health but also the ability hospitals and health system to improve it... if not transform it."

COVID-19, as one might expect, is a constant theme in healthcare trends for 2022. Its impact on the industry over two years and its ongoing impact are both reasons why it is so prominent.

Trend 2: Healthcare will be looking to innovative technology solutions in order to ensure equity.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation defines health equity as "equal opportunity for everyone to have a healthy life." This means removing all obstacles to health, such as poverty and discrimination, and their effects, such as powerlessness and inability to access good jobs with fair wages, high quality education, housing, safe environments, or health care.

The COVID-19 epidemic brought out stark differences in access to healthcare based on a variety of factors. Karen Kobelski (Vice President and General Manager, Clinical Surveillance Compliance & Data Solutions Wolters Kluwer Health), stated that the COVID-19 epidemic brought attention to health disparities in America and that the industry cannot afford to ignore them. 2022 will be a crucial year to make healthcare data work for and not hinder the larger goal of providing the best care possible.

Forrester Predictions 2022 predicts that "health inequalities" will affect rural Americans twice as much as urban Americans. Social inequalities, multiple chronic conditions, high suicide rates and severe physician shortages will all lead to an increase in mortality in rural and tribal communities.

Wolters Kluwer believes that mining unstructured data in healthcare will provide one source of increased equity. Kobelski stated that unlocking the 80% healthcare data in unstructured format and making it accessible to all stakeholders, across all care settings, is key to success. This will make it easier for stakeholders to access and use. It is also crucial to gain big-picture insight into the healthcare disparity problem. Natural language processing and text mining are two of the machine learning tools that can be used to help health systems uncover valuable insights about health equity hidden in unstructured clinical information. This data is hard to store, search for, analyze, share, and then analyse across different health systems.

Trend 3: Wearable data will play an increasingly important role in patient care.

Wearable devices such as watches and fitness trackers are helping to raise awareness about health and have generated a lot of data that can be used in patient care. Lisa Hedges, Software Advice: "General practitioners can use the popular commercial wearable devices such as Fitbit and Apple Watch to encourage patients full-time engagement with their health."

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that mobile health technology, if applied based on science can greatly empower patients to be involved in their care and take more responsibility for their health. It also improves preventive medicine and ultimately saves lives.

T.J. Elbert, Senior vice president and general manager, Data, Health Catalyst, says Healthcare C-suites will move beyond transactional predictive models to adopt augmented intelligence for support of organizational, data-driven decision making. Healthcare IT News was told by Elbert that the data strategy must include new Internet of Things (IoT), patient portal and wearable data as well as the governance and orchestration necessary to integrate this data into patient care.

Trend 4: The challenge for health care systems to manage more data.

Healthcare organizations face a challenge in managing all the data points and translating them into useful insights. It is crucial to eliminate data silos and arrange lab data so that actionable insights can easily be derived. Without a way to organize and normalize the data into meaningful information for patients and providers, all data are almost worthless.

Amy Burroughs, HealthTech, writes that while the right tools can speed up the creation of actionable and data-informed insights but it is more difficult to do so in fast-changing situations. However, this is what researchers and providers are striving for as they leverage technology and partner with others. They are working to improve healthcare and increase equity.

Elbert says that healthcare data will be more important in 2022 because organizations will need to manage and curate data assets and create reusable products. Healthcare leaders need to assess their data operations capabilities now and ask three questions: What data tech strategy will we use to transition into this new world? What is our data mesh? What people and processes are necessary to make this data mesh work?

Trend 5: The concern about clinician burnout will not go away.

The problem of burnout in the healthcare team was an issue that existed long before COVID-19. However, the global pandemic has only made it worse. According to Forrester Predictions 2022, "in 2022, there will be a surge in workforce shortages across the healthcare industry." Medscape 2021 Physician Burnout and Suicide Report showed that 42% of physicians said they had been burned out. 21% reported that their symptoms started after the COVID-19 pandemic.

Amit Phadnis is Chief Digital Officer at GE Healthcare. He stated that "Clinicians just see so much data; there's a chance they'll feel completely fatigued just a few hour into their workday."

To help reduce burnout, there are many innovative ways to convert data into useful insights. Phadnis stated that data scientists and technologists will continue to improve algorithms to collect and analyze these avalanches and generate valuable clinical insights. This has the potential for improving the quality of healthcare and allowing for a more equitable distribution of work, as well as reducing the risk of burnout.

Trend 6: Patients will have more options when it comes to care at home.

While telemedicine and its practice have been around for many years, virtual healthcare visits were only common during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many believe that the shift to at-home care will last because both patients and providers feel more comfortable using it.

Vikram Savkar, Vice-President & General Manager, Medicine Segment, Health Learning, Research & Practice, told Hospital and Healthcare Management that telemedicine would be resilient to the next pandemic. I believe that healthcare providers will formalize and strengthen their training to promote telehealth best practice to their patients in 2022. It is already happening. I anticipate that 2022 will see a shift to a predominantly virtual model for specialties such as mental health and urgent care.

While the majority of Forrester 2022 predictions look grim, there is one bright spot: the development of at-home services, especially hospital-at-home, and the return to house calls. Forrester predicts that the number of hospitals that provide care at home will increase by three times. "Hospital facilities have learned from their mistakes that surge planning is essential, as well as the need to establish a way to deliver acute care outside of its walls."

Managed Healthcare Executive explains that virtual healthcare will need to be integrated with in-person care. The future will be about achieving optimal quality and appropriateness of care, as well as integrating virtual health with in-person delivery. Patient navigation is essential for both in-person as well as virtual care. This includes areas such as clinical and data integration and the challenges of cost-sharing and reimbursement. "

Trend 7: Healthcare providers will continue to look for ways to improve their operations and care, while also increasing efficiency and value.

Savkar stated that in the wake of a pandemic which exposed the weaknesses of our current delivery system I expect an accelerated adoption of tools and solutions to reduce the time between identifying clinical problems and implementing clinical solutions based upon evidence.

Burroughs wrote in HealthTech that "more organizations are deploying solutions to facilitate real-time patient information and seamless collaboration between care teams." Next, they will refine their features and integrate workflows to meet the needs of specific providers and teams.

The important role that operations management solutions play when delivering precision healthcare is being reemphasized by hc1. New enhancements will be made to hc1 Analytics (tm) as well as hc1 Opera Management (tm). These solutions provide quick access to data that can help healthcare organizations improve their ability to manage relationships and processes, and enable them to better serve patients and clinicians.

Trend 8: The focus will be on patient mental health and emotional well-being

The CDC reported in an April 2021 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly report (MMWR), that the percentage of adults suffering from anxiety or depression during the last 7 days rose significantly (from 36.4% up to 41.5%) and that the percentage reporting they received but did not receive therapy or counseling during the previous 4 weeks (from 9.2% down to 11.7%). The largest increases were seen in adults between 18 and 29 years old, as well as those who have less than a high-school education.

The pandemic has not only helped to reduce stigma surrounding seeking treatment for mental health or emotional well-being but it has also increased the demand for such care. Employers are offering employees access to online resources and digital therapy that can help them cope with their mental health issues. Managed Healthcare Executive writes that employers are still focused on the quality and safety of these resources.

Trend 9: Precision Health will continue its growth.

Precision health is already being used in the treatment of cancer, but current trends reports are expanding this focus to all aspects of healthcare delivery. Alessia Delgranti and Rachel Laing write in Drug Target Review that drug and diagnostic developers are exploring precision approaches in other areas, such as neuroscience and women's healthcare.

The second Precision Health Virtual Summit was held in partnership with Becker's Healthcare and hc1. It featured optimism about precision health and a recognition that there are still many hurdles. The most important thing to remember about precision medicine is the patient story. During her Summit presentation, Gilan El Saadawi (MD, PhD), Founder and Chief Medical Officer at Realyze Intelligence, stated that precision medicine is not about the gene or the treatment that was based on it. When we talk about precision medicine, we mean the customization of patient care with medical decisions and practices that are tailored to the patient.

Trend 10: Healthcare tech will continue exploring Artificial Intelligence (AI), and digital healthcare modeling as more healthcare providers embrace it.

"When we think of artificial intelligence applied to population, where my mind goes" said Brad Bostic (hc1 chairman, CEO), during a conversation with Brian Patty MD, CMIO Medix Technology, at the Twenty-First Population Health Colloquium. "To the extent we can focus on these data sets, such as lab results and all the related medications getting prescribed, and optimize that we see it as a great opportunity to artificial intelligence and machine-learning."

Software Advice author Hedges states that small healthcare companies can take advantage of AI/Machine Learning today by strategically investing in existing software systems which have already integrated this tech in their operating systems. Chatbots and intelligent decision-support systems such as chatbots are now widely available.

Bostic said, "If you think of the most tangible way to explain what AI can bring about is the digital twin." "We need a computational model for every patient that can be used digitally before any treatment is given or any other procedure that may require invasive or radical diagnostics. Artificial intelligence is required to create this digital twin.