Virtual Reality to Opioid Lawsuits: 5 Healthcare Trends for 2020

woman sitting in wheelchair with virtual reality headset on in front of purple background; healthcare trends in 2020

Healthcare is ever-changing, especially as healthcare practitioners embrace new technology like virtual reality. Here are five healthcare trends to keep up with in 2020.

  1. Sped-up legislation. We are officially in an election year, so we can expect healthcare legislation to speed up as healthcare and drug prices are at the forefront of most Americans’ minds as they head to the polls. Healthcare experts at Avalere Health believe Donald Trump might wrap up his first term by issuing an executive order to bring down drug prices. 
  2. More mergers. Two mergers were finalized in 2019 between four major healthcare corporations–CVS-Aetna and Cigna-Express Scripts. If these companies succeed in their goals of cutting costs and streamlining healthcare processes, other companies could follow suit. 
  3. Continuous growth in Medicare Advantage enrollment. Medicare Advantage enrollment grew 17 percent in 2019, and this trend is expected to continue in 2020 as Medicare Advantage plans continue to expand their supplemental benefits. One benefit many Medicare Advantage plans are adding that beneficiaries are excited about is covered rideshare services, like Uber and Lyft rides to non-emergency medical appointments. Additionally, Medicare Advantage execs also hope to increase the percentage of beneficiaries who use telehealth services. Currently, 60 percent of Medicare Advantage plans have telehealth services available, but only 1 percent of beneficiaries use them despite incentives like convenience and less contact with additional germs. 
  4. Increase in opioid settlements. Drug companies, drug company CEOs, doctors, hospitals, clinics, and more healthcare professionals are facing so many lawsuits for their parts in the opioid crisis that the lawsuits have been consolidated by local and state attorneys. One of the consolidated lawsuits, known as the National Prescription Opiate Litigation, represents more than 2,000 lawsuits. In order to avoid prolonged negative media attention, many of these drug companies and healthcare professionals will likely elect to settle out of court in the coming year. 
  5. Greater role for virtual reality. Virtual reality is not just for video games. It can also be used to treat PTSD in veterans, Alzheimer’s or dementia in memory care patients, and can serve as a means of distraction for patients with chronic pain. Additionally, surgeons can prepare for difficult and unexpected obstacles using virtual reality before a complicated surgery. 

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