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Top 5 Physician Trends in 2021

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As we roll into 2021, one can’t help but be optimistic for a better year ahead. Last year was tough to navigate. A global pandemic that turned our world upside down, created waves in every industry and of course, healthcare is no exception. While a vaccine rollout gives hope, the events of the past gave us a clear view of the gaps in our systems and processes.
 
Here are the Top 5 Physician Trends that will affect physicians in 2021, as the industry adapts and evolves:


1.  The Focus on Mental Health
 
While physician burnout was prevalent even before COVID 19, the shortages in healthcare staff last year have added to the problem, affecting individual mental health as well as patient care.  The National Physician Burnout and Suicide Report 2020 surveyed 15,000 physicians across 29 different specialties and stated that 42 percent of physicians were burnt out, with 55 percent citing paperwork and bureaucracy as a major cause, followed by 33 percent who were overburdened by the workload that went hand in hand with staff shortages.
 
We can expect to see organizational and system-wide policy changes that aim to alleviate stressors at the workplace. Integration of robust electronic health systems, as well as smartphone applications to help with charting and handoffs may also become commonplace.

 
2. Health Data Security
 
Moving away from paper records and going online with EHRs brings another issue to the forefront. Now that we have patient information online, what are we doing to protect it? The fallout from HIPAA violations is serious as data hacking has the potential to endanger the health and safety of large patient populations enrolled in a healthcare network. Usage and control of electronic health records will be restricted and monitored, with strong firewalls in place to enhance cybersecurity. The CDC has also developed guidelines to help with data security and patient confidentiality.
 

3. Imaginations Realized: 3D Printing in Healthcare
 
3D printing has opened up a whole new world for the medical industry. A market analysis has predicted that medical 3D printing is currently valued at $1.25 billion and is set to expand to $ 6 billion by 2027, showing incredible potential. The most frequently used applications are orthopedic implants. Medical technology company Stryker received FDA clearance for its titanium lumbar cage, a 3D intervertebral body fusion device used for lumbar fixation in spine surgery. This adds to the list of other orthopedic equipment like acetabular cups as well as hip and knee implants. It is only a matter of time before 3D printing becomes patient-specific, to cater to unique anatomical needs, bringing a whole new dimension to personalized medicine.

4. The Social Media Boom
 
There is a new trend on Tik Tok … and it’s not all fun and games! Physicians have readily adopted social media in 2020, to counter medical misinformation and fake news that directly impacts patient health and safety. Backed by viral dance moves and trending hashtags, physicians have leveraged their social media profiles to connect directly with their patients, with a personalized, warm, and more human touch. Reaching out to Gen Z over various social media channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, they provide credible information about physical and mental health, COVID and vaccine information, and even broach topics like vaping and sexual health. Jefferson Health in Philadelphia has even appointed Dr. Austin Chiang, a gastroenterologist, who is also well known on Tik Tok and Instagram, as their Chief Medical Social Media Officer, advocating for transparency in healthcare.


5. The Growth of Telehealth

 
Telehealth had its moment in the spotlight in 2020, with social distancing mandates and general public apprehension about outpatient visits, fueling its usage by both physicians and patients. While video consultations with primary care physicians and specialists have certainly improved patient experience, the adoption of wearable technology has further enhanced the role of remote patient monitoring. Research shows that the use of wearable technology like smartwatches, bands, rings, and skin patches has tripled just in the last four years, with a survey from Business Insider Intelligence revealing that more than 80 percent of consumers readily adopt fitness technology.
 
2021 promises to be a year of growth in the healthcare industry, with many exciting new trends in the health technology and wellness space. An increased focus on physical as well as mental health allows physicians to develop meaningful connections with their patients in the future.
 

Top 5 Physician Trends in 2021
Dr. Lakshmi Vaswani

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