Philips Sonicare

Making the top 10 list!

Partners In Prevention 1It is that time of year when the experts in healthcare predict the top 10 trends in looking after the community’s health. It is instructive that there seem to be no such Canadian forecasts — perhaps there is no significant changes coming in the Great White North!  But in the US, where healthcare reforms are rapid and rampant, here are some predictions from Fortune:

  • New healthcare business models will emerge to deliver on medical value creation instead of wellness, entertainment, and education.
  • In response to an aging population, to increasingly expensive medications, high deductible plans and to new payment models, doctors will begin to engage patients in the shared decision-making around end of life discussions.
  • The new (PCSK9) cholesterol drugs will make the new Hepatitis C drugs (Solvaldi) look cheap. The positive mortality data will make doctors want to lower cholesterol to the minuscule levels that only PCSK9s can deliver. Also, patients will view the weekly injection as more convenient than daily pills. The success of weekly injections to assure compliance with doctor’s orders will lead to more innovation in drug delivery strategies that remove the risk of patients forgetting to swallow pills.
  • Employers start to treat healthcare costs as seriously as travel expenses. Just as employers mandate preferred travel partners and per diems for travel expenses, they will become equally active in imposing rules to manage healthcare costs. Large employers may choose which doctors and hospitals employees visit, require second opinions before high cost procedures or treatments, recommend telemedicine before going to an emergency room, or require online tools for managing their conditions and out-of-pocket expenses.

And where is dental care in these trends? Notably unmentioned by all of these prognosticators. Our part of healthcare is relatively unchanging but it has these long-term trends to deal with in 2016 and beyond:

  • Escalating consolidation of the traditional family practice in to dental chains. The economics of community outreach and service are driving this.
  • Differentiation before an aging and non-attending community. How do we get the uninsured and partly insured to come back for regular care?
  • Addressing the changing preferences for care by those over 50. For many reasons, smile makeovers just don’t meet these wants anymore.

Dentistry is changing quietly but inexorably. Perhaps in 2016, it can make the top 10.

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