With futuristic experiments like brain-to-brain communication, the joining of stem cells from two dads, and a poster child of greedy pharmaceutical companies plastered across the media—I think it’s safe to say that it’s been a progressive and shocking year in medicine.
The medical field is constantly progressing, and with a much-anticipated presidential election to take place at the end of the year, it raises even more questions as to which policy changes are realistic and what medical trends will implement the most social change.
So here they are—Six trends that will be buzzing in 2016:
1.Physicians will be reviewed and compared
Just like we check reviews on Yelp or Open Table before booking a dinner reservation, the same trend will now affect doctors. Thanks to websites like Health Grades, Vitals, and Zoc Doc, physicians need to be conscious of their manners, attentiveness to patients, and the overall competence of their staff. Long gone are the days where patients go to doctors simply because they’re knowledgeable on a specialty and hello to the social media of the medical world.
Some things to be mindful of to receive and maintain favorable reviews include: wait time at the office, promptness, courteous staff, accurate diagnosis, bedside manner, time spent with patient, and ease of follow up appointments.
2. The cost of prescriptions will continue to rise
The cost of prescriptions medications is at an alarming high, especially among specialty pharmaceuticals.
Looking back, 2015 saw the greatest increase in pharmaceutical spending in over a decade. This spending increased 12.2 percent, even among generic prescriptions. In fact, the price of 3,500 generic drugs doubled in price in the past eight years according to a market analysis. In a study done, some Americans spend upwards of $100,000. This spike in prices is one of the biggest financial challenges the health industry will face in 2016.
3. Medical marijuana—Less alternative and more progressive
There are currently 23 states and Washington D.C. that allow marijuana for medical purposes. One common misconception about medical marijuana is that users will be smoking constantly. However, there are a number of hemp creams, cannabidiol, and cannabis extract that treat symptoms ranging from nausea to epilepsy. Plus, with the price hikes on prescription medications, medical marijuana products are expected to rise in popularity.
4. More use of telemedicine apps
Telemedicine is an innovative way to monitor patients that require daily care, in addition to providing services to those in a rural area facing a physician shortage. Use of health-related apps have doubled in the past two years, and this could be because apps and technology provide an affordable alternative to those who either don’t have medical insurance or find their primary care doctor is no longer in their insurance network.
It is safe to say that digital health is going mainstream, however, with growing popularity comes growing cybersecurity concerns.
5. Holistic medicine
With the costs of medication soaring and trendy allure of more alternative means of health, expect more Americans to take a holistic approach to health this year. Whether this means receiving acupuncture for pain, using aromatherapy for stress, or ingesting more teas than pills, holistic medicine is growing in popularity. Plus, with more co-ops opening, there is easy access to whole foods and organic goods which boost overall health.
6. Physician assisted suicide
While I wouldn’t go as far as saying this practice will be an instant hit among the masses, it is certainly becoming more accessible, with California being the most recent state to legalize physician assisted suicide and the New Jersey Senate picking up Assembly Bill 2270/S382 this month.
Some believe death should be in the hands of a religious figure or modern medicine, but others feel that physician assisted suicide allows patients to avoid a so-called “indignity” of being disabled to eliminate pain and suffering.
Needless to say, 2016 will be another record setting year for medical and social change. What other trends do you expect to blossom in the New Year?