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2024: Healthcare Predictions & Trends

Joseph Ebberwein, Co-founder and CFO of Corstrata




Continued Evolution of Telehealth

In 2024, telehealth is expected to further cement its role in healthcare delivery. This evolution will likely include more sophisticated telehealth solutions, particularly in chronic disease management and mental health services (1). 


We will see an expansion of telehealth modalities as technology continues advancing. For example, providers may start implementing virtual reality to help patients visualize procedures and treatments. Remote patient monitoring will become more commonplace, with wearable devices and sensors tracking key health parameters outside clinical settings. And as 5G networks proliferate, the capabilities of real-time video visits will improve even further (2).  


Another telehealth trend will be greater specialization to meet the needs of specific patient cohorts. We may see dedicated telepsychiatry practices, virtual chronic care management programs, online speech therapy, and more (3) Customized telehealth offerings will provide targeted support.


Regulatory and legislative action around telehealth will also continue evolving in 2024. Issues like reimbursement policies, licensure restrictions, and privacy protocols will remain high on the agenda (4). Payers and policymakers may place greater scrutiny on telehealth quality and costs. However, overall momentum still favors telehealth expansion.


Deepening of Value-Based Care Models

The shift towards value-based care is anticipated to deepen in 2024, with a continued emphasis on delivering high-quality care at lower costs. This shift will likely require adjustments in workflows, analytics, and compensation models for healthcare providers (5).


As value-based care arrangements like ACOs and bundled payments mature, we'll see the refinement of accompanying metrics and reporting requirements. The focus will remain on long-term costs, preventive care, and chronic disease management. Newer metrics around social determinants of health, patient-reported outcomes, and health equity may emerge (6). 


Healthcare providers will invest heavily in data integration, interoperability, and analytics to demonstrate value and performance (7). Robust data capabilities are essential for succeeding under value-based models. Many healthcare systems will restructure physician compensation plans to incorporate quality and cost goals (8).


Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers will continue expanding value-based payment initiatives. For instance, Medicare already aims to have 50% of reimbursements tied to alternative payment models by 2025 (9). Pressure from payers will drive adoption forward, although providers face real challenges in making this financial and cultural leap.


Enhanced Patient Experience  

Healthcare systems are expected to continue enhancing patient experiences by leveraging digital technologies. This focus will involve improving two-way communication with patients, further personalizing care, and integrating patient feedback into service design and delivery (10).


Patient advisory councils, comprising both healthy consumers and patients with chronic conditions, will play a bigger role in informing organizational decisions and care model design (11). These boards provide regular input on issues like telehealth usage, care coordination, educational resources, and virtual vs. in-person services.


We'll also see more healthcare ecosystems centered around the patient journey. Leading hospitals will provide navigation tools and consistent branded experiences across the continuum of care (12). This could involve unified scheduling systems, health system-branded telehealth visits, cross-platform patient portals, and consistent educational touchpoints. The goal is seamless coordination.


Additionally, healthcare experience officers will become more commonplace, mirroring the rise of chief experience officers in other industries (13). These executives oversee patient experience strategy, gather patient insights, and champion process improvements. Patient experience will increasingly be viewed as a competitive differentiator.


AI and ML Integration  

The integration of AI and ML in healthcare is predicted to accelerate in 2024. These technologies will likely play a larger role in patient care, with increased adoption of AI for diagnostic support, treatment planning, and personalized medicine (14).


In 2024 and beyond, AI hype will give way to practical applications focused on clinical and operational impact. Hospitals will apply AI within specialty services like radiology, pathology, and dermatology to assist physicians with analysis and decision-making. Voice-enabled assistants will take on administrative tasks, freeing up providers. Machine learning will support population health management and precision medicine initiatives (15).


However, barriers to adoption - including algorithmic bias, legal liability, and physician trust - will slow the progress. Healthcare organizations must implement AI safely, ethically, and equitably while protecting patient data rights (16). AI success stories from early adopters will help increase provider buy-in over time. Replacing human clinicians remains unlikely in the foreseeable future.


Special Focus: The "Hospital Without Walls" Initiative

A significant development in healthcare has been the "Hospital Without Walls" initiative. This program, launched by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), allows hospitals to provide inpatient-level care in the home environment. It represents a fundamental shift in how healthcare is delivered, extending the reach of hospital services beyond traditional settings (17). The initiative aims to improve patient access, experience, and outcomes by meeting individuals where they are comfortable – at home.


Some key facts about the Hospital Without Walls initiative include (18):

  • Started during the COVID-19 pandemic as a temporary waiver program but has now been extended to 2024 and may continue beyond that

  • Enables hospitals to provide acute inpatient care at home while receiving typical hospital reimbursement rates  

  • Qualifying individuals can receive IV medications, remote monitoring, and daily physician visits at home rather than being hospitalized

  • Over 150 hospitals and health systems are participating, and more continue to join

  • Must follow strict eligibility criteria, meet hospital Conditions of Participation, and report outcomes


Research has shown that compared to hospitalization, patients who received hospital-level care at home had (19):

  • 31% lower costs per admission  

  • 37% lower risk of 30-day readmission

  • Three times greater patient satisfaction

  • Better preservation of functional independence  


Implications of "Hospital Without Walls"

  • Extended Patient Care: This initiative enables hospitals to offer inpatient-level care at home, benefiting patients with chronic conditions or mobility issues (20). It provides care in a more comfortable setting without disrupting patients’ lives and routines.

  • Operational Adjustments: Hospitals may need to modify their operations and care delivery models as this initiative progresses (20). For instance, they may need to coordinate providers and services across inpatient and home-based care settings. Staffing models may need to become more flexible.

  • Financial and Reimbursement Challenges: The initiative impacts the reimbursement rates and financial sustainability of home care programs (20). It shifts revenue to the home while hospitals still carry overhead costs of maintaining beds and facilities. Billing practices also require adjustments.

  • Regulatory Compliance: Hospitals must ensure compliance with standard Conditions of Participation, which may change with the evolution of this initiative (2). For instance, CMS could institute stricter requirements around the types of conditions treated, patient eligibility, documentation, etc. Hospitals must monitor regulatory updates.

  • Partnership Opportunities: Health systems can leverage partnerships with payers, home health agencies, and telehealth providers to create comprehensive at-home care programs (21). Strategic partnerships provide the infrastructure, clinical capabilities, and local provider networks needed.


Future of "Hospital Without Walls"

The future of this initiative is subject to legislative and regulatory actions. Healthcare providers should monitor updates from CMS and adapt their strategies accordingly. This program's extension and potential permanence could significantly shape the future of healthcare delivery, particularly for populations requiring continuous medical care, as evidenced by the expansion of SNF@Home, ED@Home, etc. (22). 


If the waivers are made permanent, we could see explosive growth in the home hospital model (23). More health systems will invest in scaling the operational capabilities required. Payers may start reimbursing for hospital-at-home under traditional fee-for-service Medicare as well. Patient demand is also likely to drive growth.


Adoption of this model ultimately hinges on demonstrating continued clinical outcomes, patient satisfaction, and cost-effectiveness through rigorous data analysis and reporting (24). However, the tremendous benefits shown already point to major potential. Hospital at home could soon become a significant sector of the healthcare system rather than just a niche model.


Wound and Ostomy Care: Corstrata's Perspective  

Corstrata, a leader in digital wound and ostomy consultative services, is poised to play a significant role in this changing healthcare landscape. Our services, which are tech-enabled and delivered virtually, align perfectly with the ongoing digital transformation in healthcare.


Telehealth and Wound Care  

Telehealth has become a vital tool in managing chronic wounds. Digital technologies enable remote monitoring, reducing the need for frequent clinic visits. This is especially beneficial for patients living in remote areas or far from wound clinics (24).


Telehealth technologies are making wound care more accessible, affordable, and convenient for both patients and clinicians. Some examples include (25):

  • High-resolution image capture of wounds via smartphone cameras for remote evaluation by physicians and wound care specialists (WOC Nurses, etc.)

  • Bluetooth-enabled wireless sensors that monitor wound temperature, pH, and fluid leakage     

  • Secure online patient portals for documenting wound photos, measurements, and symptoms

  • Automated messaging reminding patients to follow wound care regimens and track progress

  • Video telemedicine visits enabling visual assessment of wounds by clinicians


These solutions minimize unnecessary travel and time commitments while still facilitating expert wound care (26). Chronic wound patients have seen improved healing rates and quality of life. And providers can monitor wounds with greater frequency to intervene early when needed.


Data-Driven Care

The use of data analytics in wound and ostomy care helps healthcare providers make informed decisions, leading to improved patient outcomes and more efficient resource utilization (27).


In the future, predictive analytics tools can identify patients at risk of developing chronic wounds using data like demographics, medications, lab values, and comorbidities. High-risk patients can then receive preventative interventions. Machine learning algorithms can determine optimal treatment protocols for complex wounds based on similar past cases. Tracking applications help standardize wound measurements across care settings (28). 


But to realize the full potential of analytics in wound care, some key steps must be taken (29):

  • Integrating wound documentation into EHRs and data warehouses to aggregate information

  • Standardizing terminology and metrics for wounds across healthcare settings 

  • Incorporating images, free text notes, and other unstructured data into analytics

  • Developing risk stratification models for wounds and underlying health conditions

  • Ensuring data quality, privacy, and security  


With robust data strategies, wound care teams can deliver evidence-based treatment, predict complications, optimize costs, and demonstrate value - all leading to better patient outcomes.


Education and Training

Digital platforms provide valuable resources for patient and caregiver education, enhancing the management of wound and ostomy care at home (30). These technologies deliver information through modalities that modern consumers expect and prefer.


Some examples of digital education resources include (31):

  • Video tutorials demonstrating wound care techniques like dressing changes and offloading

  • Webinars where patients can get live advice and ask experts questions  

  • Smartphone apps with step-by-step wound care guides and ostomy management tips

  • Online peer communities to exchange experiences and advice

  • On-demand education streaming 24/7 through patient portals

  • Digital wound trackers with automated feedback on the healing progress

  • Virtual reality simulations of ostomy care procedures and techniques


Digital education encourages greater patient engagement and adherence. Combining self-directed e-learning with some human interaction – peer support, nurse coaching, and telehealth visits – can help patients feel connected and motivated (32). Education platforms also provide data on learning gaps to inform better instructional design.


The Future Role of Corstrata

Corstrata delivers solutions that are essential for the future of healthcare, including telehealth software, remote patient monitoring, care coordination programs, patient education apps, and analytics-driven treatment. As digital transformation accelerates, Corstrata's model will become the norm rather than the exception.  


Our use of technology improves convenience for patients, drives better outcomes, and reduces overall costs – aligning perfectly with the goals of value-based care. We allow health systems to extend top-quality wound care into patient homes while maintaining revenue streams. And our digital-first approach provides the on-demand experiences that today's healthcare consumers expect.


Corstrata will continue leading the shift toward digitally enabled, decentralized, patient-centered wound care. We will leverage innovations in telehealth, wearables, AI, and virtual reality to deliver care anytime, anywhere. And we will demonstrate how human-centered technology can enhance care rather than replace the human touch. 


Corstrata's forward-thinking model represents the vanguard of healthcare’s evolution. We will forge partnerships with health systems, home health agencies, and technology companies to drive better care coordination and elevate the standard of care. And we will work closely with policymakers to ensure updated regulatory frameworks that support virtual delivery models.  


Most importantly, we will listen to patients to understand their needs and preferences while protecting their rights and interests. Patient-reported outcomes, satisfaction scores, and advisory councils will inform our efforts. We aim to empower patients with education, community, and control over their healthcare journeys. 


Corstrata has the expertise, solutions, and mission focus required to lead change amidst healthcare’s complex transformation. We are committed to leveraging technology ethically to expand quality wound care, lower costs, and improve outcomes and experiences. The future looks bright, and Corstrata will help accelerate the industry’s progress.


Conclusion

Healthcare is embarking on an era of enormous technological change and innovation. Telehealth, artificial intelligence, wearable devices, remote monitoring, and virtual reality will expand possibilities for care delivery. However, patient needs and outcomes must remain at the center. At Corstrata, our patient-first mission grounds our adoption of emerging technologies. 


While risks like cyber threats, privacy breaches, and algorithmic bias remain, we cannot let fear of change dictate progress. With a thoughtful approach, healthcare can harness new tools to make care more personalized, equitable, accessible, and effective for all. The pandemic pulled our industry into the future – now, we must lead with purpose and vision. Corstrata looks forward to an impactful role in advancing healthcare’s next chapter.


References

  1. Deloitte Insights. (2023). The future of telehealth.

  2. McKinsey & Company. (2020). Telehealth: A quarter-trillion-dollar post-COVID-19 reality?

  3. Advisory Board. (2021). The future of virtual care: 7 trends to watch

  4. JAMA Health Forum. (2021). Overcoming Policy Barriers to Telehealth

  5. McKinsey & Company. (2023). Deepening value-based care models. 

  6. CMS. (2022). Strategic Roadmap: Value-Based Models

  7. HealthITAnalytics. (2021). Why Interoperability, Health Data Exchange are Vital for Value-Based Care

  8. RevcycleIntelligence. (2022). Tying Physician Compensation to Value-Based Care Goals

  9. Health Affairs. (2022). Medicare’s Alternative Payment Models: Progress And Challenges

  10. Advisory Board. (2023). Patient experience 2.0.

  11. NEJM Catalyst. (2018). Engaging Patients Using Digital Technology — Learning from the Experts

  12. Deloitte. (2016). The patient ecosystem | Deloitte US

  13. Becker's Hospital Review. (2019). How UPMC has tackled patient experience with chief experience officer role

  14. Frost & Sullivan. (2023). The growth of AI in healthcare.

  15. Accenture. (2021). Healthcare A.I. is here now: Accelerating outcomes, exceeding expectations  

  16. Stanford Health Policy. (2022). Deploying artificial intelligence in health care settings: What are the ethical and legal risks?

  17. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2023). Hospital without walls program. 

  18. Catalyst @ Health 2.0. (2021). “Hospital at Home” Comes of Age During Covid-19

  19. JAMA Internal Medicine. (2020). Assessment of a Pilot Hospital-at-Home Program Implementation

  20. Health Affairs. (2023). Implications of the hospital without walls initiative.

  21. McKinsey & Company. (2020). Hospital at home: An opportunity to improve care and reduce costs?

  22. Modern Healthcare. (2023). The future of hospital at home.

  23. NEJM Catalyst. (2021). Hospital at Home Is Going Mainstream

  24. Medical Economics. (2022). 'Hospital at home' demonstrated safe, significant savings

  25. Wound Care Journal. (2023). Telehealth in wound care.

  26. Today's Wound Clinic. (2021). The Benefits of Telehealth in Wound Care: A Look at the Data

  27. Wounds. (2020). The Role of Telehealth in Wound Care Management

  28. Ostomy Wound Management. (2023). Data analytics in wound and ostomy care.

  29. Wound Care Learning Network. (2022). How Big Data is Revolutionizing Wound Care

  30. WoundSource. (2021). Leveraging Data and Analytics to Advance Wound Care

  31. Today's Wound Clinic. (2023). Digital education platforms for patients. 

  32. SAWC Fall. (2021). Integrating Digital Health Education into Complex Wound Care


CORSTRATA was founded as a solution to provide access to scarce wound and ostomy specialists. We provide services to a range of healthcare providers - hospital at home, home health, hospice, skilled nursing facilities, mobile clinicians, value-based care organizations, etc. Our staff of board-certified wound nurses (CWS, WOC Nurses) provides virtual wound consultations employing evidence-based wound practice to all 50 states, DC, and Puerto Rico.

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