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Advance Possibility

What’s Upcoming in 2024: 5 Predicted Trends in Healthcare

what's next in 2024
Ramneek Kaur
Solutions Consultant
January 28, 2024

2023 was a tumultuous year for the healthcare industry and 2024 promises to be no different. To better navigate the ups and downs ahead, it’s important to know what’s coming. Here are five major trends that have been emerging in the healthcare industry that will likely dominate the conversation in 2024.

Trend #1: Artificial Intelligence Is Here to Stay…But Rules Are Coming

It seems like just about every industry is talking about the impact of artificial intelligence (AI) and healthcare is no exception. There are many current and potential applications for AI in healthcare. It can be used to build virtual assistants that help answer patient questions, to interpret test results and offer appropriate treatment options, and it can even be used to create data where relevant samples are missing. Expect the healthcare industry to continue exploring the possibilities of AI.

Of course, many stakeholders have raised concerns about AI and its role in sensitive areas like healthcare. The general consensus is that AI is a tool that needs to be wielded by human healthcare professionals. In other words, even if AI is capable of making recommendations, all medical decisions still need to be made by qualified healthcare providers.

Another concern that applies to AI’s role across all industries is the perceived bias in results. Many complaints have surfaced in recent years that AI platforms have been trained on data that is inaccurate, offensive, or culturally biased against certain demographics. To address this, new rules to govern AI will be coming in 2024. The Department of Health and Human Services is introducing guidelines for software developers to disclose how their AI algorithms work, how representative the AI training data is, how they tried to mitigate bias, and how the software was validated. The goal is to provide transparency for health plans and provider groups when they are choosing AI solutions.

Trend #2: Staffing Shortages Continue

Difficult conditions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to have accelerated burnout throughout the healthcare industry. Even as the pandemic waned, staffing shortages continued at all levels. It looks like this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. A recent survey revealed that 66% of healthcare leaders were planning to look for new jobs.

Interestingly, this is an area where AI may be able to offer some relief. While AI cannot — and should not — replace healthcare providers, it can assist with many of the non-clinical tasks that can consume a great deal of time for providers and administrators. Such automation can reduce the burden on healthcare workers and eliminate some of the stress that may be prompting people to leave their jobs and/or leave the industry altogether.

Trend #3: More Focus on Mental Health

The staffing shortages mentioned above are tied to another one of the major trends the healthcare industry will contend with in 2024: mental health. Again, this trend may have its roots in the COVID-19 pandemic, a life-altering event that had long-ranging implications for mental health. Front-line workers, such as healthcare providers, were especially impacted, but the general population also experienced depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. The lingering effects of this mental health crisis continue to be a problem for providers and their patients.

The good news is that mental health is being recognized as a crisis that needs to be addressed, both in the healthcare industry and in the population at large. Look for health plans and provider groups to offer more mental health resources — including virtual care options — for providers and patients.

Trend #4: Preventative Healthcare to Combat Rising Costs

Due to factors such as inflation, the financial sector is predicting healthcare costs will rise in 2024. If costs do rise, many patients may begin to skip check-ups and other recommended procedures. In such an environment, preventative care becomes even more important. Providers and health plans should be proactive in reaching out to members to advocate for proper diet, exercise, stress management, and common immunizations. Such advocacy can help members steer clear of avoidable conditions such as type-2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.

Trend #5: Compliance, Compliance, Compliance

All signs point toward an environment of increased scrutiny for health plans moving forward. In 2023, we witnessed a significant uptick in audits from the Office of Inspector General (OIG). This trend will almost certainly continue in 2024. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is also restarting Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) audits, its primary method for addressing overpayments to Medicare Advantage plans.

Audits are always scary, but health plans can reduce or eliminate the potential damage with a culture of compliance. Educate staff on all relevant policies and procedures. Install safeguards to make sure your submissions are accurate and well-documented. Consider a quality assurance program to prepare for CMS audits. Make compliance a priority.

Each of the five trends listed above will help to shape the future of healthcare. Be sure you are aware of how each of these topics will impact you and your organization. Plan ahead to be successful in 2024 and beyond.