Trends Will Shape Healthcare in 2023: Hospital Closings, Retail Clinic Scaling and More - MedCity News

As the US population grows sicker and hospital finances grow bleaker, 2023 is shaping up to be an eventful year for healthcare.

On Thursday, a consumer research firm Forrester drop a report predicting the major trends that will shape healthcare in the coming year. Healthcare stakeholders must prepare for key changes, such as care becoming even more inaccessible to rural patients and additional retail customers entering the clinical space.

More hospital closings and bankruptcies

Many hospitals will never be able to recover from their financial losses due to the pandemic, according to Natalie Schiebel, vice president and research director at Forrester. She predicts that this reality will lead to a big spike in hospital bankruptcies.

Spending on hospitals and health systems is expected to increase by nearly $135 billion in 2023, according to Forrester. On top of that, hospitals face a range of financial stressors, including the rising cost of labor, the staffing crisis, supply chain issues and inflation. Many hospitals have been able to keep their doors open thanks to federal regulations and other government aid — but as that aid expires, some will be forced to close.

In fact, Forrester research showed that more than 30% of all rural hospitals are at imminent risk of closing due to low financial reserves as well as dependence on government aid.

“We see a lot of risk in rural areas, where foreclosures have been at a steady accelerated pace since the first decade of the 2000s,” Schiebel said. “I mean since 2013 we’ve seen 100 rural hospital closures. There are simply a small number of patients in these areas. And people are now traveling more and more to hospitals because a lot of them are closed.”

Scaling up retail health clinics

Forrester predicts that retail health clinics will work to double their share of the primary care market by 2023. Amazon, Walmart, Walgreens and CVS are well established in the retail health clinic space, but more companies for retail will join their ranks next year, according to Schiebel.

She predicts that more Americans will go to retail health clinics for primary care, especially as hospitals fail to meet patient experience expectations amid resource constraints.

“Traditional primary care can’t keep up with the new experiences that consumers really crave right now,” Schiebel said. “There is a huge shortage in primary care and this is not going to improve, unfortunately, and most health organizations are still recovering from the pandemic. It includes retail health and you can make an appointment on the same day or within 24 hours. You can go online in a very convenient way, choose a provider and a time slot.”

Improving RPM in chronic diseases

A quarter of the country’s elderly population will be treated for chronic diseases with remote patient monitoring tools in 2023, Forrester predicts. Schiebel said these tools can help providers prevent avoided hospitalizations and worsening of chronic diseases.

It is extremely important for the US to monitor and analyze patients with chronic diseases, especially now that the number of multimorbid patients is increasing, Schiebel said. She also pointed out that many Americans’ chronic conditions have been worsened by complications of Covid-19, which remain poorly understood by medical professionals.

“So there are people who have been affected by Covid-19 and they may or may not know that their biological systems have been permanently affected,” Schiebel explained. “And it can be in many ways, from loss of taste to heart problems. Much of this is unknown, but it will compound the problem as people already have these chronic conditions.

Photo: elenabs, Getty Images

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