What Lies Ahead
Healthcare Trends for 2016
Heading into the new year, what might 2016 hold for the healthcare industry? What are the trends consumers can expect to see as the year unfolds? Of course there is no crystal ball that can predict the future, and nothing is absolute, but according to the PwC Health Research Institute, 2016 will be a year of firsts as the industry adapts to the main forces driving the new health economy: The rise of consumerism, the focus on value, downward pressure on costs, technological innovation and the impact of new entrants. The businesses that will likely succeed will be the ones that prioritize addressing consumer needs and increasing value.
“Continued emphasis on improving healthcare quality and patient safety will be a big trend for 2016,” says Greg Stock, CEO of Thibodaux Regional Medical Center. “Healthcare providers will be taking actions to improve, or greatly improve in some cases, the patient experience as a whole.”
“Patients of the region can look forward to the opening of our medically directed, state-of-the-art Wellness Center. The center is a 242,000-square-foot, $70 million facility set to open near the mid-year point in 2016,” he adds. “It will provide advanced clinical and wellness services for patient needs.”
Thibodaux Regional Medical Center has been serving the healthcare needs of the Thibodaux area since 1929 and the new Wellness Center is the first of its kind in the state and is among the finest of its kind in the nation. It is designed to improve the health and well-being of the region through prevention, fitness, education, rehabilitation, and focused sports and wellness services.
In addition to state-of-the-art health-and-fitness amenities, the facility will include centers of excellence that focus on imaging, sports medicine, neurosciences, pain, spine, rehabilitation, weight management, wellness education, urgent care, women’s breast health, and aquatics, featuring a lap pool area and warm-water therapy pools.
THE WHOLE PATIENT
Internal Medicine Specialists was founded in 1976, by Thomas E. Oelsner, MD, and Jay M. Shames, MD. Internal Medicine Specialists’ goal is to provide the highest-quality, cost-effective medical care to their patients with a human touch. They are an innovative multispecialty practice that places a strong emphasis on preventive medicine and on the maintenance of good health. All of their physicians are board-certified in internal medicine, and most of their physicians have training in a subspecialty areas such as nephrology (diseases of the kidney), pulmonary (lungs), endocrinology (diabetes, diseases of the thyroid and other glands), infectious disease, or allergy, asthma, and clinical immunology.
“We should expect to see the trend in 2016 to focus on population health management and looking at the patient as a whole, the big picture,” says Laurie Bergeron, administrator at Internal Medicine Specialists. “We are going to focus on how to help patients with the disease process and those factors that lead to health conditions like diabetes and kidney disease. The overall trend will be to address the whole patient with a more proactive and hands-on approach to see what is really going on with their health from head to toe. We want to go above and beyond the traditional, regular office visit and be more involved with the patient with a multidisciplined approach, which will put all the different pieces of the healthcare picture together. All the members of the patient’s healthcare team will be in communication with each other so that everyone knows where the patient is at the same time.”
SPEAK THEIR LANGUAGE
According to Crescent City Physicians, a subsidiary of Touro specializing in primary care, OB/Gyn, oncology, urology and cardiac/vascular services, the upcoming year will see an increased importance on the reporting quality of data as patients become more educated in choosing healthcare providers. Also, they recognize that there is a need for bilingual physicians to serve patients who are not native English speakers.
Nearly 21,000 New Orleans residents identify themselves as Hispanic, the fastest-growing population segment in the city, according to the Data Center, which based its analysis on U.S. Census Bureau data from the 2000 census and 2013 population estimates. Since Katrina, the Hispanic population of New Orleans has risen from 15,000, or 3.3 percent of the pre-storm population, to 50,000, 15.2 percent of the current population, according to the New Orleans Economic Development office.
Meeting patient needs better seems to be a trend for the new year. Healthcare providers realize the importance of providing patients with the most up-to-date treatment options as well as keeping up with technology. Usage of health-related smartphone apps has doubled in the last two years, from 16 percent of consumers in 2013 to 32 percent this year, according to the PwC Health Research Institute. Both technology and shifts in financial incentives mean “care will begin to move into the palms of consumers’ hands,” PwC said.
For example, Thibodaux Regional is dedicated to researching and implementing the latest medical technology to improve patient care, enhance patient recovery, perform advanced diagnostics and constantly advance surgical procedure technology. They are actively engaged in listening to their patients and reach them through their hospital website, Facebook page, YouTube channel and Twitter account.
LEFT: Health apps for smartphones are expected to continue to grow in popularity. New options include AskMD, which provides a personalized health consultation and prepares a patient for a doctor’s visit, and HealthLoop, which enables a patient to stay connected with his/her doctor between visits. RIGHT: Local business Iron Tribe Fitness is resolved to increase its technological offerings in order to help busy professionals meet their fitness goals. Photo Cheryl Gerber
Phone apps that are expected to pick up steam in 2016 include AskMD, which provides a personalized health consultation and prepares a patient for a doctor’s visit. It uses speech recognition to identify potential causes of symptoms, taking into account medications and other known conditions. The app can determine if the patient may be in a life-threatening situation and provides the location of the nearest emergency rooms. The Apple Health Capability app synchronizes patient’s current health data including age, sex, height, weight and blood pressure. The app allows patients to share relevant information with their doctor, and it also allows physicians to deliver tasks and reminders to keep patients on track. The HealthLoop app enables the patient to stay connected with his/her doctor between visits. It uses interactive mobile “check-ins” to set a patient’s daily expectations, support self-care recovery activities, anticipate questions and monitor clinical areas of concern
“We are one of the first communities in our field with access to new computer-based assessment tools,” says David Schonberg, owner and operator of Schoenberg & Associates Assisted Living Facilities. “We now have the capability to constantly improve the experience of our residents with programs that closely monitor and analyze their emotional, mental, and physical well-being, as well as programs that utilize our resident’s life stories and personal preferences to provide caregivers with an ideal activities and care plan that is completely customized to their needs.”
“Heading into the new year, in which the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and dementia and other forms of cognitive decline continues to steadily increase, it is more important than ever that assisted living and memory care providers like my company play an active role in the research and improvements being made in the memory care field to provide the best, most advanced level of care possible to the residents we are serving.”
In addition to continuing education programs, Schoenberg & Associates is also taking advantage of exciting technological advancements to better serve their residents. The company owns and operates 10 assisted living communities in Louisiana (including Vista Shores and Beau Provence), Mississippi and South Carolina, which focus on putting the safety of each resident first.
Jim Strickland, manager of Iron Tribe Fitness, says that next year the company plans on implementing a new phone app especially designed for Iron Tribe that will enable members to schedule classes, track fitness benchmarks, and keep motivating them to improve their health. “Our ITF smartphone app and in-store iPad can be coupled with members’ My Tribe accounts to make it easy to chart progress and stay on track. Also, we utilize social media to engage members to enjoy working out and continue to improve. The app also has healthy recipes, mini workouts for people who travel, and Instagram capabilities so members can keep in touch with each other and support each other on their journey to improved health,” he said. “Technology-wise, in 2016 we plan to kick off the body composition analyzer, which is much more than a scale. It measures body fat percentages and lean muscle mass and uses the method of quantitative analysis. These elements of body composition and body composition analysis provide basic information required for assessing the status of the body and allow for personalized exercise and diet programs to maintain healthy lifestyles.”
Iron Tribe Fitness is a place for individuals to go to do group-based workouts to achieve better results. “Our members are able to build relationships with the same coach they see each time they work out as well as working out with the same group of people,” Strickland says. “The new year is the time when people are most excited about getting into shape, and we are adding new staff to accommodate the influx and to better serve our members. Also, we are looking to expand to Uptown and Metairie locations in the very near future. We are looking for the right spaces now.”.