How We Can Expect Healthcare to Change in 2018

We hear news stories daily about how the landscape of healthcare might be changing, but these words leave much to question. What changes will stick? And what can we expect from the year to come?

News outlets are reporting that more insurers will drop out of the marketplace for 2018 and the ones that remain will likely increase their rates. Amidst this Obamacare uncertainty, the world continues to change. We can expect changes in healthcare marketing, technology, pharmaceuticals and more.

Based on what we know, we can expect the following from the healthcare industry in 2018:


1.     Specialty Diseases Continue to Rise

In recent years, the pharmaceutical industry has put increased emphasis on chronic diseases and syndromes that affect less than 200,000 people. Naturally, there’s little competition in these areas, and there are fewer treatments. Currently, 42 percent of drugs in late stages of FDA approval are specialty drugs. Spending in this area is experiencing a growth of 15 percent annually and is expected to reach $235 billion by 2018. Although these diseases affect a smaller portion of the population, these patients are expected to account for 50 percent of drug spending by 2018.

This could impact anyone in the healthcare industry and is especially relevant for healthcare marketers and professionals treating patients with specialty diseases.

2.     Telemedicine to Experience a Growth Explosion

According to an IHS Technology Report, the telemedicine services field is expected to grow to include 7 million patient users from a mere 350 thousand patient users in 2013.

This number isn’t quite so surprising because telemedicine was a relatively unexplored concept in 2013. It may be more staggering to consider that the projected 7 million patient users will be nearly twice what it was in 2016.

Telemedicine is arguably the most promising change to healthcare in decades because it can help expand care to individuals who cannot make it to a doctor’s office. Once it fully reaches its potential, telemedicine will allow doctors to help more patients in less time and expand their markets to include wider geographical areas. According to a survey done by Becker’s Healthcare, only one percent of respondents had no plans to implement telemedicine at any point in the future.

3.     Technology Comes Closer to Curing Disease

We may well be on the cusp of a major breakthrough in molecular engineering and gene editing. Chimeric Antigenic Receptor T-Cell (CAR-T) and CRISPR-CAS9 gene editing technologies are about to come to the forefront and may help eliminate diseases like cystic fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. At least, it’s a promising possibility.

CART-T technology has already made great strides in the treatment of cancer by programming the body’s T cells to attack tumor cells. With news of potentially eradicating such dreadful diseases, it’s an exciting time to be a part of the healthcare industry.

4.     Generic Drugs See an Increase

As patents expire, we’ll see more generic versions of drugs on the market than ever before. In this area, there is pressure from both sides. Politicians and society, in general, have the interest to keep drug costs low while pharmaceutical companies have an obvious financial interest to keep profits high. We may expect to see policies from the FDA that are more favorable to generics, and this would increase the share of generic drugs on the market. However, the rise of specialty drugs is expected to drive overall drug spending up instead of down.

5.     Asian Markets Expand

Asia’s pharmaceutical and medical device industry is on the rise and expected to experience rapid growth in 2018. Although North America will continue to contribute the largest proportion to industry growth, Asia is quickly gaining size and power. Southeast and East Asia are projected to grow at twice the global average, driven by population growth, rising incomes and improved access to healthcare.

China already accounts for one-quarter of the global healthcare market, and this number will continue to rise.

2018 is right around the corner and so are these predicted changes. Some changes are ones to look forward to, and others may be less exciting depending on your perspective. How will each of these predicted changes to healthcare impact your role?

Rachel O’Conner is a freelance content writer. She has written for a variety of industries including health, fitness, travel, and beauty. Aside from writing, Rachel enjoys hiking, traveling, and playing at the beach with her two dogs.


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