The future of Obamacare is uncertain, to say the least.
President-elect Donald Trump has consistently called to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act throughout his campaign, but many pundits see this as being a catch-22 for the incoming administration.
America’s healthcare system is already a global outlier (in a bad way), with disproportionate amounts of money being spent for very little return on life expectancy. For that reason, many people see the additional coverage of 20 million new people through Obamacare as a crucial step forward.
However, this new coverage hasn’t come without major challenges. Obamacare is plagued by soaring premiums, insurers leaving the program, and coverage monopolies in certain states. This puts America’s healthcare at an inflection point, and no one really seems to know how to solve it.
The Obamacare Dilemma
The following infographic from Healthgrad sums up the most recent metrics on Obamacare, as well as showing the double and triple digit rises in premiums that some states are facing.
As the infographic notes, the cost of healthcare has continued to escalate year after year, outpacing both inflation and wage growth. Obamacare has not been immune from this trend, and premiums are now being hiked because of low enrollment, mispriced plans, a dwindling pool of insurers, decreased competition in exchanges, and sicker patients than expected.
Despite only 25% of Americans supporting the outright repeal of Obamacare, it’s looking more and more likely that the healthcare system of tomorrow won’t look quite like it does today.
The Post-Obamacare Era
Right now, nobody knows quite what the future holds for U.S. healthcare.
Repealing or replacing Obamacare is fraught with at least six major issues, but perhaps the most significant one is a lack of decisiveness within the Republican party itself. What would Obamacare be replaced with, and how would that change be implemented?
Interestingly, there are at least seven Republican plans that have been tabled to replace Obamacare. Within that group, two of the more prominent ones come from Georgia Rep. Tom Price and House Speaker Paul Ryan.
Tom Price, who is Trump’s pick as the incoming secretary for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), has already published his consumer-driven healthcare model, and it already exists in legal language. In additional, Paul Ryan released his own proposal in the form of the A Better Way plan earlier this year, which also touches on other issues such as poverty, national security, and the economy.
Despite the number of options, the problem is that no one can agree on a particular solution. The party is heavily divided, and Trump is already receiving heavy blowback from the Tea Party faction for telegraphing potential delays in repealing or replacing the act.
Yes, the future of U.S. healthcare is murky – even to Trump and the GOP. However, what is clear is that with most chips stacked in the Republicans favor over the coming years, it is unlikely that they will miss the opportunity to initiate the post-Obamacare era in some shape or form.
5 Ways Technology is Transforming the Healthcare Industry
How are emerging technologies like nanomedicine or AI shaping the future of the healthcare industry? See five ways, in this infographic.
5 Ways Tech is Transforming the Healthcare Industry
Whether it’s information-sharing between patients and doctors or aiding in a high-risk surgery, it’s clear that dynamic applications of technology are well underway in disrupting the healthcare industry.
TECH AT OUR FINGERTIPS
Today’s infographic from the Online Medical Care highlights healthcare areas where tech is breaking barriers. Here are five ways that technology is impacting the sector, ranging from AI to nanomedicine:
Artificial intelligence will have a dramatic impact on many industries, and healthcare is no exception.
A large share of healthcare executives are already applying artificial intelligence in their operations, with data showing plans to increase budgets last year.
|Healthcare uses of AI||Adoption (2017)||Adoption (2018E)|
|Clinical decision support||46%||59%|
|Medical costs / health plan||21%||38%|
|Patient safety and quality||25%||33%|
|Supply chain management||13%||21%|
As the technology becomes more developed and widespread, it’s expected that AI could help diagnose strokes, eye disease, heart disease, skin cancer, and other conditions.
Also known as telehealth or telemedicine, virtual healthcare allows patients and doctors to touch base remotely using technology such as video conferencing or mobile apps. Many patients are also becoming comfortable using wearable technology to monitor any changes in their health – and sharing that data with their physicians.
Convenience, ease of use, and travel times to their closest doctor are main reasons why patients choose virtual care. On the flip side, many are concerned about the quality of care, or fear a loss of a personal connection with a doctor.
If all patients chose virtual healthcare over face-to-face visits, it could save the U.S. health system $7 billion annually – while the time savings would “free up” the equivalent of 37,000 doctors.
Nanomedicine is rapidly evolving field which controls individual atoms and molecules at the extremely minute “nanoscale” of 1 to 100 nanometers. To put that into perspective, a single newspaper sheet is about 100,000 nm thick.
Nanomedicine is mainly used to effectively diagnose, treat, and prevent various diseases. Compared to conventional medicines, it’s much better at precise targeting and delivery systems, paving the way towards combating complex conditions such as cancer.
The global nanomedicine market could be worth over $350 billion by 2025.
Although it’s normally been associated with entertainment, virtual reality is making waves in healthcare as well. The multi-sensory, immersive experience that VR provides can benefit both physicians and patients:
- Healthcare worker training
VR can be used to train surgeons in a realistic and low-risk simulated environment.
- Physical and mental health
VR offers therapeutic potential and rehabilitation for acute pain and anxiety disorders.
VR is thus considered a cost-effective and efficient tool for both teaching and treatment, and the VR healthcare services market is expected to grow from $8.9 million in 2017 to an expected $285 million in 2022.
3D printing has come a long way since its debut, especially in its uses in the healthcare industry. The technology offers faster prototypes, creating everything from personalized prosthetics to “poly-pills” at a fraction of the cost.
The customizable aspect of 3D printing is revolutionizing organ transplants and tissue repair, and it’s even able to produce realistic skin for burn victims.
Last but certainly not least, robotic surgery is sweeping through hospitals. It allows doctors to perform delicate and complex procedures that might be otherwise impossible.
Typically, surgeons control a device with a camera and mechanical arms, giving them a high-def view of the surgical site. According to the Mayo Clinic, this method generally:
- Enhances precision, flexibility, and control
- Comes with fewer complications such as infections
- Results in less obvious scars as it is minimally invasive
While technological adoption into the medical field doesn’t come without challenges, the value is clear – and we’ve barely scratched the surface of tech-driven possibilities in the healthcare industry.
Visualizing the Future of the Pharma Market
With prescription drugs expected to be a $1.2 trillion industry by 2024, which are the most anticipated drugs and therapy areas in the pharma market?
Visualizing the Future of the Pharma Market
Around the world, people are living longer.
By 2050, there will be two billion people that are 60 years or older globally. Meanwhile, the amount of seniors (65+ years old) in the U.S. will double to 100 million by 2060.
To meet the needs of this aging population, we will continue to need larger quantities and more varieties of prescription drug treatments – an industry that is expected to skyrocket to $1.2 trillion in size by 2024.
Drug Sales, by Segment
Today’s infographic comes to us from Raconteur, and it highlights the most anticipated drug treatments and therapy areas for the pharmaceutical industry.
It starts by breaking down the massive pharma market into therapy segments, showing a forecast for the size and growth for each category.
Here is the data for the top 15 segments, sorted by projected worldwide prescription drug sales in 2024:
|Rank||Therapy Area||2017 sales||2024 sales||CAGR|
This data, which comes from a recent report from EvaluatePharma, helps showcase a few key insights.
Firstly, the oncology therapy area – which makes drugs that are used to treat various forms of cancer – is by far the largest in the pharma world with $107 billion in sales in 2017. It’s also projected to maintain its dominance going forward, growing at an impressive 12.2% CAGR to $233 billion by 2024.
Next, while sales in cancer-related drugs will be the most in absolute terms, the fastest growing treatment area is actually in immunosuppressants – a segment of drugs that make a body less likely to reject a transplanted organ, such as a liver, heart, or kidney. It’s projected that this segment will grow at 15.7% per year, eventually becoming the sixth largest pharma segment at $38.1 billion in 2024.
Lastly, while sales in the pharma market will be averaging 6.1% in annual growth as a whole, there are two major segments that will see negative annual growth going forward: Anti-virals (-0.9%) and MS Therapies (-0.8%).
The Battle Against Cancer
Currently, there are more drugs used for treating cancer than for any other type of disease or condition.
|Rank||Disease or Condition||Number of active drugs|
Unfortunately, even though many cancer drugs are available on the market already, the debilitating disease is still a leading cause of death. Existing drugs are used in treatments of chemotherapy or hormone therapy, but it’s clear that there is still plenty of room for progress to be made against the disease.
For these reasons – combined with the estimate that nearly 40% of Americans will be diagnosed with some form of cancer during their lifetimes – it’s no surprise to see that companies have yet even more cancer drugs in the pipeline:
|Rank||Therapy area||Number of drugs in pipeline|
As more drugs get approved from the above pipeline, it is projected that $1 of every $5 spent on prescription drugs in 2024 will be going towards cancer-related treatments.
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