The Growth of DIY Healthcare

This post is part of a series – 14 Business and Technology Trends to Look for in 2014

New healthcare methods and technologies empower consumers to take charge of their own health.

Battered by sluggish economics at the ground level and reacting to seismic changes in the political, technical and financial context of healthcare, individuals are taking the challenges of healthcare into their own hands. Powerful sectors of the economy are also pivoting their gaze to focus directly on these consumers. Like the explosion of direct-to-consumer advertising by pharmaceutical companies in recent years, health plans, device makers and even clinicians are innovating and advertising with an acute focus on the specific desires of the healthcare consumer.

2013 was a year of dramatic, turbulent changes for healthcare providers, but the story behind the story that will drive big trends in 2014 is the impact of these changes on the actual consumers of healthcare. The influx of new patients due to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will impact access to care – especially if the physician shortages predicted by many studies materializes – encouraging both providers and recipients of healthcare to find alternative methods of interacting.

Stand-alone urgent care centers and drug store quick-shot clinics will see increased traffic as consumers opt out of the high costs and long waits of many hospital facilities. Online resources for health information, such as ShareCare and HealthTap, provide direct access to clinicians from mobile devices or computers. Hospitals themselves will continue the trend of marketing their ER and outpatient services directly to consumers with billboards and websites proclaiming their low wait times and clinical excellence.

Insurance companies have also already begun to swing their attention from the employer-sponsored health plans that dominated the health insurance landscape to the individual market created by the ACA’s Health Exchanges. Television ads, billboards and direct mailings seek to engage the consumer with wellness programs, self-help, fitness support and features designed to drive a good member experience that pays off in retention of the healthy (and thus more profitable) members.

Technology to support consumer healthcare will show the most dramatic growth, if the 2014 Consumer Electronic Show is any indicator. Show organizers reported a 40% increase over last year in digital health exhibits, showcasing products for mobile healthcare, social engagement, injury prevention, symptom diagnosis and early detection and treatment of chronic diseases. Just a few key trends from the conference were self-tracking and wearablesaging in place solutions and real-time remote monitoring.

2014 will mark a shift in how healthcare organizations and consumers interact. With stand-alone clinics, online and mobile resources, and even new fitness and health-focused wearable technology, individuals will be able to manage and monitor their personal health better than ever before.

Other Business and Technology Trends of 2014:

  1. Beginnings of a Gigantic Innovation Cycle 
  2. IT Shops Will Leverage Their Knowledge of Legos® to Build Enterprise Systems 
  3. Data is the New Currency – Mining for Gold in the Internet of Things 
  4. The Emergence of the Professional DIY Data Scientist 
  5. Marketing and IT Sitting in the Tree
  6. Cloud Breaks Out of Infrastructure Groups and Into Strategic Imperatives
  7. Financial Companies Prepare to Advise Multi-Generational Homes
  8. The Re-Emerging Importance of Tech Careers
  9. Responsive Web Design Falls Victim to the Hype Cycle 
  10. Data Scientist Sightings Will (Mostly) Be Proven a Hoax
  11. Non-Techies Grasp the Cloud
  12. Info Synthesis and Collaboration Create a Recipe for 2014 Breakthroughs
  13. Sensors Invade – Big Data Goes Mainstream