Hey, another trend article.  Its not like you haven’t read 3 of those already.  But we’re doing it anyway because we are putting it into perspective for the mid-size imaging departments like yours, so here we go.

1.  More patients will choose—or be “pushed”—to outpatient imaging centers.

If you thought the first one was going to be AI, don’t worry, it is on the list, but it was the most obvious so we’re saving it for later.

It’s no secret that hospitals are more expensive on nearly every level when compared to a local outpatient center.  Now add the 2019 Transparency rule released by CMS dictating that hospitals must make healthcare service costs visible to the public…and that price disparity becomes VERY apparent.

This rule is being contested in court, but when it is passed, hospitals will be publishing the cost of 300 of its “shoppable” services, 70 of which will be dictated by the CMS.   Even if imaging services are not included among these 300 items, the added spotlight on the price disparity will have many patients searching for alternatives.

But, it might not even be up to the patient.

According to Monica Hon, VP for the consulting firm, Advis, many insurance providers will not honor hospital imaging in 2020, as they continue to try to push patients to the less expensive imaging centers and physicians’ offices.

And the imaging centers will be ready for them.  Recent technological advances have allowed many imaging centers and physician groups to offer more advanced imaging services that were previously only available at larger facilities.

2.  The changing identity of the patient pool will drive a shift in focus to “Healthcare Convenience”

Cost won’t be the only factor that leads people to choose smaller imaging centers over hospitals.

The Pew Research Center has already reported that millennials now outnumber baby boomers in the United States (Millennials at 73 million.  Baby boomers at 72 million).  More and more, a greater part of the patient pool is demanding the same efficiency and convenience in their healthcare that they see provided by other trusted brands that they interact with.

While millennials do not access the healthcare system as often as baby boomers do, the oldest millennials are now in their late 30’s and are helping to make medical care decisions for their aging family members.  This has resulted in a recent NRC Consumer Trends report stating that 80% of patients are willing to switch healthcare providers for “convenience factors” alone.

This focus on convenience will see two major changes in the market:

  • Large and small imaging centers alike will speed up the rate at which they adopt new technology in an effort to keep up with the new levels of conveniences demanded by their patient base.
  • An increase in “Telehealth” services, increasing the demand for easy access to patient’s medical files

Many of the larger healthcare firms such as United Healthcare have already adopted iterations of Telehealth in the form of apps that allow users to video chat their doctor for 20-minute visits.

For Radiology this means that patients will increasingly be wanting access to their imaging records in an easy-to-read and easy-to-share format.  This will be compounded by the fact the patients will become more used to the idea of “shopping” for their healthcare solutions.

These first two trends will be further enabled by the increasing prevalence of AI and the “The Internet of Medical Things,” but those are big topics that will need to be saved for another day because this article is already quite long.

In the meantime, make sure you looking closely at what technological and operational changes you can make 2020 to improve the patient’s experience.  If you have the chance to invest in patient convenience, take it, because you can bet everyone else will be.

Stay tuned till next week!  And sign up for the newsletter if you haven’t already.