Strategic Planning

Future of Healthcare Report: Exploring Healthcare Stakeholders’ Expectations for the Next Chapter

A healthcare stakeholder considering the future state of the industry

The 2021 Future of Healthcare Report from HIMSS and its Trust partners—Accenture, The Chartis Group and ZS—offers a unique view into an industry in the midst of a transformation. The healthcare stakeholder groups represented within the report—health systems, clinicians, payers and patients—all expect substantial changes to impact their industry over the next five years.

A phased approach was leveraged to develop the report. HIMSS conducted a series of 12 qualitative interviews with subject matter experts from across the health ecosystem to identify the most pressing challenges faced today. Three of the highest priority areas—digital health, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), and financial health—were then used by the Trust partners as the starting point to design the quantitative approach.

The quantitative market intelligence in the Future of Healthcare Report was collected from March to April 2021 and represents 2,743 respondents in the United States—225 health systems, 309 clinicians, 147 payers and 2,062 patients.

HIMSS and the Trust partners asked this broad and representative range of stakeholders in healthcare about their expectations of healthcare technology as well as their sense of the innovations and market dynamics that will help write healthcare’s next chapter.

The insights that emerged reflect an industry undergoing a transition. The consensus among respondents is that new tools and technologies promise more accurate and expansive care, along with greater efficiency, even as the specifics of the path forward remain uncertain.

Digital Health

The pandemic hastened a transition to digital health, and there was a consensus among stakeholders that they plan to continue investing in digital health. For example, 80% of health systems said they plan to increase their investment levels in digital health over the next five years. This aligns with the appetite for digital health among patients, more than half of whom indicated they would be amenable to a healthcare future that provides telehealth visits exclusively, so long as proper care is delivered on those visits.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

Industry players are watching with interest as AI/ML-reliant healthcare applications emerge. Nearly all payer respondents rank AI/ML gains as either a high or moderate organizational priority. Meanwhile, most clinicians (62%) haven’t yet begun working with AI/ML tools but are interested in doing so.

Financial Health

Healthcare stakeholders diverge somewhat when it comes to their sense of the financial trends that will affect the industry in the coming years. Clinicians, for example, said Medicare reimbursement and financial incentives from payers are twice as important to their investment decisions as value-based care models. While health system leaders said they expect value-based care arrangements to account for a growing share of revenue in the coming years.

HIMSS Trust Partnership

The HIMSS Trust partnership is a consortium of leaders from across the healthcare and technology space who are collecting, analyzing and reporting on in-depth, data-driven market intelligence. Insights gathered by the Trust will unveil trends and challenges to help the industry prepare and predict for the next three to five years.

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