By Craig Beam

Welcome to part two of my look at the state of healthcare. The arrival of a new year — and a new decade — is an opportune time to reflect on what we have to look forward to in healthcare, and where we still have work to do.

At Petra, we partner with health system and hospital CEOs every day, giving us keen insight into the unique challenges they face and are working to solve as well as emerging trends and new developments that impact how they serve patients every day.

My three-part blog series takes a look at the state of healthcare from three different angles:

  1. Good news to celebrate about the state of healthcare — read part one here
  2. Emerging healthcare developments to look forward to
  3. Areas of opportunity for healthcare to do better

Here, I’ll continue the series with part two.

The State of Healthcare: Emerging Developments To Look Forward To

The state of healthcare today includes many exciting developments on the horizon that will impact our industry for the better, changing how we deliver care and, most importantly, changing the lives of the patients we all serve.

Let’s take a look at five advancements giving the healthcare industry something to look forward to in the future — in some cases, in the very near future:

1. Telemedicine is coming. Admittedly, telemedicine has been growing at a slower pace than many in our industry had hoped. But that’s about to change. Now that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have removed key reimbursement hurdles, telemedicine is ready to reach its full potential. Already effective for stroke, behavioral, and some specialty uses, its uses will expand exponentially. Future expectations for telemedicine include critically improving patients’ access to care, improvements in diagnoses and monitoring, better patient experiences, higher satisfaction rates for patients and providers, and lower healthcare costs.

2. HIV prevention is near. We are closing the gap on preventing HIV. Three HIV vaccines currently in late-stage trials have scientists expressing optimism, raising hope for an effective vaccine as soon as 2021. This is incredible news for our country, where today about 1.1 million people are living with HIV — and about 38,000 people are infected every year. Global impact is also a consideration. Worldwide nearly 38 million people have HIV/AIDS, and about 1.7 million people are infected every year.

3. Genomics and precision medicine will save lives. While still emerging, genomics and precision medicine are poised to deliver to life-saving treatments for rare life-threatening diseases. CAR T-cell treatment is an example of a therapy showing dramatic results for secondary leukemia treatment in pediatric patients. Pharmacogenomics also offer advances in prescribing the most effective medications for patients, resulting in fewer side effects, faster recovery, and lower costs. Meanwhile, genome editing has the potential to improve prevention and treatment of a range of diseases from cystic fibrosis and sickle cell disease to cancer and heart disease. Take note: Genome editing, like the CRISPR-Cas9 system, is not without ethical questions and will continue to fuel serious discussions among academic research and medical centers.

4. Behavioral health will get the attention it deserves. Behavioral health is demanding a wake-up call in the U.S. As the devastating opiod crisis continues, a lot of attention will be focused on mental health services and addiction treatment — as it should be. U.S. deaths of despair — due to alcohol and drug poisoning, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis — have been steadily rising since the millennium and recently reached an all-time high. Opioid deaths have skyrocketed, with impact on multiple generations of Americans, from teens to seniors. And weekends pose a particular burden on ERs who often times see a significant increase in psychiatric volume that leads to boarding of these patients in the emergency department. Mental health disorders are, in fact, are among the most common causes of disability in our country, and the resulting disease burden is among the highest of all diseases. Watch for major changes in healthcare delivery, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment, in addition to changes in insurance and legislation. In fact, check out one Petra project that’s an example of adapting healthcare design with a focus on behavioral health in a recent blog.

5. AR and VR will be transformational. Augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) technologies are already in use in healthcare — and momentum is expected to grow by leaps and bounds. These technologies will be game-changers in the areas of training, surgical visualization, research, diagnosis, and treatment as their use and sophistication continues to advance. AR and VR are already making headlines with brain injuries, PTSD, cancer, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, and more. The bottom-line benefits: improved patient outcomes and reduced cost of treatment. That’s clearly a win-win for all of healthcare.

What do you think? When considering the state of healthcare, what else you think we have to look forward to? Email your thoughts to me directly at . You can also visit our LinkedIn page to comment on our post featuring this blog.

Keep an eye out for my final blog in the series focused on the state of healthcare, which will address key areas in which we still have work to do.

No matter what the future brings, Petra will continue aligning healthcare trends with strategic intent and serving as a strong partner healthcare leaders can rely on to help them adapt to changes in the healthcare and construction industries — to ensure every project meets tomorrow’s healthcare needs.

At Petra, we are true partners with our clients. We’re team players, and collaboration is the name of our game. We’re proud to be trusted advisors who work side by side with our clients. Our entire team is driven by our shared passion to create better, because we believe every patient deserves better. Together we create better every day.

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