A Look Into Healthcare’s 2024 Crystal Ball: What Industry Analysts Predict

Jan 18, 2024

Many of the challenges that healthcare organizations faced in 2023 – inflation, labor shortages, worker burnout, and narrow margins – are likely to persist in 2024.

These factors are certain to make for a challenging operating environment, and most healthcare executives are taking a clear-eyed, creative look at how to overcome these looming barriers over the next year—including the use of novel health tech and medtech.

Only 3% of health system executives and 7% of health plan executives report having a “positive” outlook for 2024, according to Deloitte’s annual “Health Care Outlook Survey.” Those numbers are down substantially from the prior year, when 15% of health system executives and 40% of health plan leaders reported positive outlooks.

Nonetheless, healthcare organizations will no doubt continue to invest in new technology solutions to surmount many of the operating obstacles that are confronting them. But which technologies are likely to deliver the biggest impact in healthcare in the next year? I wanted to hear from the experts, so I polled a number of my contacts in the healthcare analyst community. Below are their predictions.

  • Jennifer EatonRN, MSN, CCDS, CRCR, research director, value-based healthcare digital strategies  with IDC, notes that key industry players will continue to invest in digital solutions that support operational efficiency, optimized value, cost containment, and patient-centric care.

“This year will usher in an evolution in value-based care initiatives (i.e., reducing health disparities, accurate predictive analytics, AI-supported workflows, and hyper-personalized engagement strategies) that are especially appealing as payers and providers aim to strike a balance between the cost and quality of care,” she said. “As healthcare organizations continue to face a variety of challenges such as inflationary pressures, labor and skills shortages, clinician burnout, and evolving consumer expectations, organizations are focusing on digital transformation and digital infrastructure creation that supports automation, deeper intelligence, and real-time insights that can minimize the drudgery and low-value work that has plagued the healthcare industry and shift this valuable time and attention to the patient.”

  • While much of the industry’s focus in 2023 was on the challenging operating climate for hospitals and health systems, payers will face similar obstacles next year, according to Jeff Rivkin, research director, payer IT strategies, IDC.

“Payers face payer-provider convergence, care delivery modernization, digital business expectations, and adopting a unified healthcare experience in 2024, on top of mandates around price transparency and prior authorizations,” Rivkin said. “It’s hard to make money only being a health insurance company, so creative innovations and business models will thrive to address cost-of-care, labor shortages, and legacy technical debt.”

  • Since the emergence of Chat GPT, generative artificial intelligence (AI) has been among the hottest topics in health IT, as well as executive suites across nearly all industries. As generative AI models mature, healthcare organizations will increasingly look to implement them, according to Delfina Huergo Bensadon, senior research and consulting analyst, Frost & Sullivan.

“One of the digital health trends we are seeing at Frost for 2024 is the increasing adoption of generative AI in healthcare organizations, as the physician’s main concern of accountability is addressed globally through regulations, such as the AI Act,” she said.

  • Elena Iakovleva, research analystChilmark Research, foresees increasing investment in AI-based technologies to improve both patient care and healthcare administration.

“Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) solutions will definitely be on the rise,” she said. “Often the accuracy of existing monitors isn’t that good (Hi, Apple Watch and friends) and without a doubt in 2024, major RPM vendors will be competing for the best data available to train their models.”

Additionally, AI will continue to transform providers’ approach to revenue cycle management (RCM), according to Iakovleva. “We have been observing tremendous growth of various RCM-oriented AI technologies,” she said. “In 2023 it feels like we hit a critical mass and by the end of 2024 we should start seeing a big change in RCM departments across the U.S. and professions associated with RCM.”

  • John Moore III, managing partner, Chilmark Research, foresees increased emphasis on the importance of healthcare organizations addressing patients’ social determinants of health needs.

“We will see the first ‘backbone’ organizations funded by federal grants connecting with care organizations to create closed-loop referrals to community-based organizations,” Moore said. “Safety-net and capitated hospitals already piloting ‘food pharmacy’ and other healthcare-related social needs initiatives will receive federal funding for these programs via new community-benefit designations.”

Of course, we already know what the biggest news story of 2024 is bound to be – the presidential election – and healthcare, as usual, is sure to play a role.

“With the 2024 election looming, both parties will step up pressure around reigning in healthcare costs and system abuses to win points with the electorate,” Moore said.

Jodi Amendola

Jodi is an accomplished leader with 25 years of experience developing, implementing and executing high-impact, integrated business-to-business public relations and marketing campaigns. Since 2004, she has served as CEO and co-founder of Amendola, where she has led campaigns for countless industry giants and start-up companies.