2018 has been a time of flux for the healthcare industry as a whole.
With uncertainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act, a rise in the digitization of healthcare, and new public health crises, 2018 has seen some intense shifts in overall healthcare trends.
Plus, the number of Americans without health insurance continues to rise, which forces healthcare professionals to adapt to this lapse in coverage.
What are the trending healthcare practices that you need to know about — and how can they help you to take better care of yourself?
We’re breaking down 2018’s biggest healthcare trends in this post, from CBD oil and natural medicine to telemedicine.
Read on to learn what to look out for.
1. New Methods of Addiction Treatment
With the Opioid Crisis in America sadly showing no signs of slowing down, one of the biggest healthcare trends of 2018 has been a shift in the way we approach addiction treatment.
First of all, many addiction centers now also include programs for family and friends that have been severely impacted by the addictions of someone close to them. In some cases, there are separate inpatient programs for friends and family members.
In other instances, they attend outpatient programs, support groups, or come and meet the addict during the treatment process.
Interestingly, we’re also seeing a shift from more common 12-step rehab programs towards evidence-based treatment.
This is because 12-step programs are now better seen not as the entire method of treatment itself, but as a supplement towards a more individualized and evidence-based program. In other words, it’s less about the addict’s feelings, and more about the science of addiction.
This has even led to an increase in a reliance on the role of neuroscience in addiction. Now, addiction specialists are interested in how addiction changes the brain, and how the brains of addicts are wired differently than those of non-addicts.
This means that once-controversial treatments like electroconvulsive therapy are now being given much more consideration than in the past.
Now that we have a better grasp on how addiction affects the brain, addiction specialists believe that neuroscience can help them to decrease the likelihood of a relapse.
2. The Rise of Telemedicine
We all want to be able to prioritize our health and well-being.
However, in between getting to work, taking care of our families, and all the other responsibilities that crop up, it can be hard to find the time for a doctor’s appointment.
Plus, some health issues don’t really warrant a trip to the doctor, when all you need is a quick opinion or some advice about how to make your symptoms go away. In some cases, the trick is getting an appointment.
When you’re in pain, you don’t exactly love the idea of having to wait a month before your doctor has an open space for you.
Enter the rise of telemedicine.
Essentially, think of this as a form of remote healthcare. You can call your doctor via video chat, conferencing tools, on a chat, or even get a remote diagnosis. You can also send images and samples through the mail, and get information and analysis via the phone.
This means that patients can get a diagnosis and treatment program promptly, at their convenience, and without having to go to the doctor’s office.
Of course, it’s important to note that telemedicine has seriously strict HIPAA and privacy laws. This means that patients can get the medical advice they need without worrying about someone else intercepting a video call.
Remember that, especially if what you’re dealing with is a more severe health condition, telemedicine likely won’t be the best option for you.
It’s not meant to help patients with long-term, chronic illnesses, or diseases.
3. In-Home Doctors Visits
While telemedicine is the perfect solution for many, some patients still prefer to meet with a medical professional face-to-face.
Still, they face the same problem as everyone else in today’s world: a lack of time, an inability to travel because of scheduling or even mobility issues, and a desire for increased convenience.
That’s why in-home doctors appointments have become the biggest trend in home health care.
This is vastly different than a senior aid, or someone that lives in the home to provide full-time care. Instead, it harkens back to the old days, when a doctor would make house calls.
In-home doctors visits are especially helpful for both children and the elderly. It’s important to remember, however, that an in-home doctor isn’t meant to serve as a replacement for your primary care physician.
Instead, it’s more of an option to use when you feel too awful to move, or just don’t have the time for an in-office appointment. Your in-home doctor will provide detailed medical notes to your primary care provider.
We urge you to find out more about home medical care and house calls to better decide if it’s the right option for your needs.
4. An Increased Focus on Patient Experience
Another one of the biggest trending healthcare practices in 2018?
A major shift from the online-only, often impersonal patient portal to an increased focus on improving the overall patient experience.
As online appointment scheduling sites like ZocDoc give patients more flexibility and choice in the medical professionals they see, doctors now have a renewed focus on patient retention.
With so many doctors that accept a specific insurance at a user’s fingertips, patients have been drawn to the convenience and immediacy of booking whoever can give them the earliest possible appointment.
This means that medical practices have to step up if they don’t want their practice to become a revolving door of “one and done” patients.
Medical professionals are now using blogging, social media, and other digital community outreach tools to connect with as many of their patients as possible.
They’ve also done what they can to ensure that appointments start on time, and have even incentivized patients to book a follow-up appointment while still in the office.
Online reviews of medical professionals are also seen as an important digital marketing tool. So, don’t be surprised if your doctor asks you to leave them a review when you’re finished with your appointment.
5. A Decrease in Private Practices
Believe it or not, another one of the biggest healthcare trends that 2018 has brought is a decrease in physician-owned private practices.
The truth is that, as the medical care landscape becomes more and more competitive, many doctors just can’t afford to have their own practices anymore.
This decline in private practices is also due to potential changes in the health insurance laws and policies, and the current sense of political uncertainty surrounding what’s next for healthcare.
Instead of having their own practices, doctors in today’s world are interested in finding employment with already established practices. In addition to that, they’re also looking for contracted work at a variety of health facilities.
This means that patients are much more likely to follow their doctor from practice to practice.
It also means that doctors are more plugged into medical staffing agencies than ever before.
6. Alternative Medicine Has Never Been Bigger
Alternative and homeopathic medicine has been another enormous conversation in the world of healthcare this year.
From how the right vitamins and exercise can potentially ward of the flu to understanding how to eat yourself well, some of the advice has been controversial.
In most cases, however, doctors are eager to make room at the table for alternative medicine — because they know it’s what patients want.
CBD oil has been an enormous addition to the alternative health conversation in 2018. In fact, many medical professionals are now embracing CBD as an excellent alternative to potentially addictive prescription pain medications.
Studies have been conducted as to how CBD oil could help with more long-term conditions, like epilepsy and even insomnia.
Alternative medicine has also been at the forefront of pregnancy care and the way women give birth.
Now, doulas and home births are on the rise, with women using the support of friends and family and breathing methods to help them to avoid the high cost of giving birth in a hospital.
How Will These Healthcare Trends Benefit You?
From changes in addiction treatment to the rise of alternative medicine, we hope that this post has helped you to understand 2018’s biggest healthcare trends.
Remember that not all of these trends will be a good fit for you — but others will impact the way you take care of yourself whether you want them to or not.
Looking for more advice about health insurance? Want to know the things you can start doing now in order to stay healthy? We’ve got you covered.
Keep checking back with our blog for more fitness tips, career advice, and everything else you need to know.