Nov. 5, 2019
Primary health, social health, and mental health are just a few areas in healthcare undergoing a transformation as a result of emerging technology, changing demographics trends, and new reimbursement models. This means the future healthcare workforce is in for major change too.
By 2026, the U.S. will need to hire about 2.4 million new healthcare workers to sufficiently care for its aging population, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). Further analysis from global healthcare staffing firm Mercer predicts that, in many states, the projected supply of healthcare workers will not be able to meet the demand by 2025.
Future healthcare professionals will face a changing healthcare system. Evolving technology designed to serve the demand for quality care is transforming how providers deliver services.
Innovation has fueled the global healthcare industry’s exponential growth, and there seems to be no sign of a slowdown. Advances in technology, the prevalence of chronic disease, and an aging population call for new methods and means of care. Trends in healthcare reveal a shift to quality over quantity, as well as a focus on personalized and preventive care—all fueled by technological advances such as artificial intelligence (AI) and precision medicine. However, the future of healthcare will be largely dependent on healthcare providers and their ability to respond to trends.
Between 2000 and 2030, the number of people in the U.S. over the age of 65 will double, according to the United States Census Bureau. By 2030, 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. But as the population ages, the growing demand for healthcare workers, specifically skilled nurses, conflicts with a shortage of qualified professionals.
The BLS projects a 31% growth in the employment of nurse anesthetists, nurse midwives, and nurse practitioners—all advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs)—by 2026. This rate is much faster than the average projected growth for all occupations (7%). APRNs can perform many of the same duties as physicians, so they are able to offer primary care with a preventive focus. The demand for healthcare that serves our aging population, coupled with an increased emphasis on preventive care, calls for skilled nurses to make up for the shortage of primary care physicians.
In fact, between 2012 and 2016, office visits with nurse practitioners and physician assistants increased by 129%, according to the Health Care Cost Institute, while visits to primary care physicians declined by 18%. Hospitals, physicians’ offices, clinics, and other healthcare facilities will need to train nurses to join the field as quickly as possible to meet the growing demand for APRNs.
Healthcare educators use technology to quickly and effectively teach future nurses and other providers. The BLS projects the employment of postsecondary nursing instructors will grow by 24% from 2016 to 2026. Their expertise, combined with the latest technology, will help equip the nurses of tomorrow with the skills needed to provide quality care.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is not a fad or a product of science fiction; it’s a technology creating waves with its broad application and integration into healthcare processes and treatments. Take, for example, AI in medical imaging, which has seen the development of ProFound AI, an AI-powered solution for digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT). ProFound AI improves cancer detection rates and reduces the time radiologists spend reading breast scans by more than 50%, according to its maker, iCAD.
The value of AI in the medical imaging market is projected to reach nearly $265 billion by 2026, according to a report from Data Bridge Market Research. Innovative companies are developing hundreds more solutions like ProFound AI, each with the potential to revolutionize the medical imaging industry. These technologies allow radiologists and other healthcare professionals to analyze scans faster, shortening the time lag between diagnosis and treatment. Furthermore, they allow professionals to see inside a patient’s body like never before.
The evolution of medical imaging requires trained radiologic and MRI technologists who can apply these technologies. The BLS projects a 12% growth in the employment of radiologic technologists and a 14% growth in the employment of MRI technologists between 2016 and 2026. These healthcare professionals will offer patients life-changing insights into diseases, injuries, and chronic conditions that were previously difficult to detect.
The future of health isn’t just about the technology used to treat and prevent illness. It’s also about improving the patient experience. Virtual appointments, telehealth, and wearables are all making healthcare more accessible to the consumer, which improves the quality of care they receive as well as their ability to manage their own health.
Today, electronic health records (EHRs) facilitate the real-time monitoring of patients’ vital signs and personal health data, without any extra effort from the patient. For example, online patient portals give consumers access to test results, appointment scheduling, and prescription requests from their mobile phones. Virtual appointments connect patients with providers using online video conferencing, which brings the convenience of drop-in clinic services straight to a patient’s home. This is a significant boon to patients in rural areas and patients who are unable to travel.
The integration of healthcare into everyday life connects patients to providers more seamlessly than ever before by lifting barriers and promoting accessibility. As a result, healthcare providers can turn to technologies to provide high-quality care, reduce costs, and improve efficiency.
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