What’s Coming in 2017 for Primary Care Physicians


The past year gave primary care physicians much to consider. 

From Zika virus fears to rising costs of prescription drugs to the election of Donald J. Trump as President of the United States, 2016 has certainly set the stage for a New Year many believe will be filled with ups, downs, starts, stops and ultimately, hope. 

Here’s a look at three things that are coming in 2017 for primary care physicians:

Technology will continue to transform healthcare communications 

Remember when the primary care physicians had to worry about getting patients comfortable with the idea (much less the implementation) of electronic medical records? How quickly things change!

These days, patients are pushing primary care physicians to make better use of technology. 

According to DMR, a website that specializes in curating statistics, there are more than 20 million registered Fitbit users in the United States–and that number is growing. Fitbits, are the wearable devices that allow users to track everything from number of steps taken to calories consumed to hours of quality sleep achieved each night. 

Wearable devices are giving patients more information about their overall health–and now patients want to share that information with their primary care physicians through interactive websites, mobile apps and other emerging technologies.

This year, look for more patients to expect to engage with you through wireless technology, which is known as mHealth and is growing by leaps and bounds. Other technology that will lead to large-scale transformations in the way primary care physicians treat patients are sure to emerge–and they could include concierge health, virtual health and video games as a means to promoting health an wellness. 

Your “webside manner” will matter

There may not be a lot of money to be made by individual physicians through mHealth or wearable devices, but telemedicine is proving to be a money-making machine–and that’s why your “webside manner” may matter an awful lot. 

Telemedicine continued to grow in 2016, thanks in large part to a paradigm shift that is moving more healthcare resources away from treating illness and towards proactively keeping people healthy. 

This trend is expected to continue in 2017, meaning you might be using teleconferencing tools to interact with patients in their homes, other clinics or other hospitals.

Virtual visits require physicians to be empathetic and compassionate without physically examining patients or reading their body language.  

Your webside manner matters–both for your patients and for your finances. According to an article on Modern Health Care’s website that cited a study that showed doctor-patient interactions can have a statistically significant effect on a patient’s health. In addition, the story also quoted a survey that said 71 percent of employers will offer telemedicine consults through health plans in 2017.  

The Affordable Care Act will get a second opinion

After the recent Presidential election, there’s only one thing that seems certain: The Affordable Care Act (ACA) will get a second opinion.

Before becoming President-elect, Donald Trump made it clear that he was no fan of the ACA and it became the general understanding that it would be repealed during his term.

Whether or not he will actually goes so far as to repeal the ACA remains to be seen. But one thing seems certain: Obamacare is going to get a second look, and it could lead to changes in the way primary care physicians treat patients. 

*The ideas related to the election noted within this blog are observations only and do not reflect a political position of any kind on behalf of Elliot Health System or any of its staff.

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