There’s no doubt that 2013 will be a significant year for health care and many of its surrounding issues that have been hotly debated for the last few years. While there may be a few surprises that pop up during the course of the year, let’s take a look at what issues are likely to be the most significant:
Increased Data Flow: Tools like APIs are already being used to successfully pull data out of existing silos. But in order for this opportunity to progress to the next step, data needs to be able to freely flow in and out. Bringing data into the mix will require the continued acceptance of a wide range of input devices and sensors. The other part of the equation will hinge on innovative companies’ ability to continue pushing the envelope forward in terms of accessing what’s needed from electronic health records accurately and instantly.
State and Federal Exchanges: Although the actual deadline for exchanges is the start of next year, many are likely to begin during the second half of 2013. And while there’s no doubt that this issue will have a big impact during, until they actually do get underway, most of the discussion surrounding both types of exchanges will remain highly speculative in nature.
Health Kiosks Become More Prevalent: While plenty of people think that this type of kiosk sounds like something that’s still too futuristic to actually exist, estimates point to there being over two thousand in operation by the end of this year. Adoption at sites like pharmacies and schools will likely drive an increased demand for these basic but flexible health tools.
Patents Expire: The patents for some significant and extremely successful drugs are set to expire this year. As a result, generic versions will have an opportunity to take large amounts of market share away from existing brand names. Because this will likely cause some of the notable pharma companies’ profits to shrink, it may set the stage for some major M&A activity.
Increased Development of Specialized Tablet Apps: Now that the iPad has proved the overwhelming demand for tablets, other options like the Nexus 7 are gaining notable momentum. While the consumer market is always going to care most about games, movies and music, the same device can be radically transformed by the use of a single app. If tablet adoption in medical settings continues at its current pace, app development companies will have the incentive they need to create even more highly specialized apps that allow doctors and other medical professionals to maximize the effectiveness of their tablet usage.
Healthcare Costs Take a Breath: While many people simply assume that healthcare costs will continue to increase at breakneck speeds, the data actually shows otherwise. While year over year Medicare costs grew by a little less than seven percent back in 2005, last year’s increase was just two percent. And although the exact percentages are slightly different, this same slowing trend also applies to hospital prices.
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John Weezypoppy is a blogger who writes about various in home care services and programs around the US.