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The turning of the page to 2022 will be a cause for celebration in the healthcare sector.

It was last year one of the worst financial years for hospitals, according to Kaufman Hall. New data from a health consulting firm and the American Hospital Association suggest so 53% to 68% of hospitals in the country will end 2022 in the red. At the same time, hospital employment is down by roughly 100,000 from pre-pandemic levels.

All this is happening against a background of increasing margin pressure and aging population.

So what will the next year hold for healthcare organizations and their patients? And how can healthcare businesses be best positioned for success in 2023 and beyond?

Let’s take a look at the situation, assess what 2023 will look like, and determine the best treatment.

High costs will dissuade people from getting the care they need

Past experience shows us this during recessions, Americans are quick to cut back on routine visits and worthwhile medical advice. Expect constant media coverage of the dodgy economy, recession jitters, and layoffs that will keep people off health care in the coming year.

Concerns about the economy and the fact that up to 15 million Americans could lose access to Medicaid when the pandemic ends it can exacerbate the tendency for people to put their health on the back burner to save time and money or to try to avoid stress.

Staff shortages and wage demands will deliver a one-two punch

Health workers are also stressed. A recent report explains that nurses are “beyond burnout.” This problem caused the launch of a million dollar burnout prevention pilot program. But research shows that turnover is highest among healthcare assistants and assistants.

High burnout leaves employers struggling to recruit and retain staff. And increase in wages make it increasingly difficult for healthcare institutions to afford the care they need and to turn a profit.

One of the reasons that there are not enough people to serve patients and generate more revenue is that there is a lot of tension in the current model. Instead of spending time with patients, healthcare workers must spend significant time on boring, inefficient administrative processes. If healthcare organizations do not address it, this problematic pattern will continue.

An increasing number of healthcare companies will automate back-office work

In an effort to improve their position and that of all healthcare stakeholders, healthcare companies will automate accounts payable, claims processing, collections and other back-office work in 2023. At the same time, health insurance providers will automate most of the administrative work involved in processing claims. This will be especially prevalent in mid-sized companies, many of which previously thought automation technology was beyond their reach.

Automation will free up employees to spend more time serving patients, which is what attracted many of these healthcare workers to begin with. This will allow healthcare organizations to know that administrative tasks are being completed correctly every time. And it will allow healthcare organizations to improve efficiency and scalability and reduce costs.

Automation is usually the domain of large organizations that have the resources to do heavy integration work and bot maintenance. But now platforms that don’t require such integration and continuously optimize bots are putting automation within reach of the average business.

Personal care will take over hit as more people embrace telehealth

Expect increasing adoption of telehealth in the coming year and beyond. Many Americans now understand the value and ease of telehealth, which has grown amid Covid-19 stay-at-home orders and dramatic policy changes. In the first year of the pandemic alone, 44% of continuously enrolled fee-for-service Medicare beneficiaries had a telehealth visit, totaling over 45 million hits.

Baby boomers and those in dire scenarios use personal visits most often. Chronic pain cases, mental health issues and the pain points of younger people – who will look first to mobile experiences rather than considering physical locations – will turn to telehealth.

Meeting patients where they are, rather than requiring them to travel or overcome other barriers to receive service, will help patients and all other stakeholders in the healthcare system.

Advances in AI will take wearable technology, healthcare applications to the next level

Big wearable companies like Apple and Google Fitbit have incredible data sets of their own. Recent breakthroughs in artificial intelligence (AI) will allow these major wearable companies to use their unique data and devices to unlock new and even more exciting applications.

OpenAI’s new GPT-3 chatbot, which delivers more advanced results than people expected, is one sign of where things are going. This signals that AI models are becoming more advanced.

To date, wearable technology mostly includes consumer apps that track how many steps you take or record your workout history. And with recent advances in AI modeling, we’re likely to see some interesting new use cases in healthcare and insurance in the coming year. But now the main difference will not be how you interact with AI, but rather who has the unique training data needed to unlock new experiences and applications for end users.

Technology will steer healthcare in the right direction

Running a healthcare business and providing quality patient care is not easy, as the past year has made clear. Inefficiency and unnecessary friction are a big part of the problem. And health care is much more expensive than it should be. United States spends almost twice as much as the average OECD country, yet has some of the worst results.

But with the right technology, healthcare organizations in the coming year can become more efficient, make quality care available to more people, reduce their recruiting and hiring costs, prevent errors, and deliver better outcomes for themselves, their workers and the patients.

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