As 2015 starts to take shape, we thought it was a good time to take a look at the trends that are likely to unfold throughout the rest of the year, both in regards to global medical insurance and the health care sector as a whole. These trends will affect everybody, from patients to business owners. Can you envisage yourself using a mobile phone app for health care as opposed to visiting a doctor? Are you planning to reassess your policy benefits throughout the year? If so, you are not alone. This is just a hint at some of the most likely trends. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at what we can expect to witness experience the rest of the year…

The rise of health care related digital tools and services

We live in a day and age that is very much dominated by the digital experience. The health insurance industry has to follow suit and 2015 is assured to be the year that we see more digital tools and services. This will affect all areas of the industry, from GP practises to global health insurance providers. In order to deliver the best standard of service, digitally enabled care and services are going to be come very important. This will make the whole industry much more efficient, whether it’s because of better office software, social media experience or telemedicine. Consumers will be able to gain more information from the comfort of their own home, by using their smartphone or computer. This will benefit the industry immensely, because it will reduce the number of in-office appointments. A study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCooper revealed that 75 per cent of doctors said they would prescribe an app to help patients manage chronic diseases, whilst 50 per cent said that e-visits could replace more than 10 per cent of in-office patient appointments. Thus, we can certainly expect to see the rise of DIY health care throughout the remainder of the year.

New class of health care shoppers

Consumers are making smarter decisions when it comes to choosing their international health insurance plans. A lot of consumers are price sensitive and thus are really assessing what they truly need from their policy. Many have discovered that less can be more, so long as they conduct their research effectively and make sure their policy is tailored to suit them. Policyholders are getting much more from their plans than ever before because they are making more educated decisions. With this new wave of healthcare shoppers comes an increased demand for more knowledge and transparency. Global health insurance providers that do not operate in this manner are going to find it increasingly difficult to compete.

Data security

Health care providers and international medical insurance companies are expected to invest a considerable amount of money in data security services this year. Nowadays, no company is immune from the threat of a data breach, and unfortunately the health sector is frequently one of the main targets. The health care industry as a whole has been warned that their security systems are inefficient when compared with other sectors. Companies recognise that there is an urgent need to invest in this area. This is especially the case when you consider the rise of mobile Internet use and such like. It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage security across various platforms. However, the need is huge. From penetration testing to sophisticated bespoke security set-ups, companies will be going a long way to protect their clients and employees’ sensitive information.

Mandatory international health insurance

Throughout 2014 we witnessed a lot of countries making the move that saw expats required to take out a global medical insurance plan if they were to have access to the health system in the country. This is a step a lot of countries have taken in order to lower government expenditures, including Qatar, Turkey, Dubai and France. We can certainly expect other nations to follow suit in 2015, or at least propose plans for something similar. This highlights why it is advisable to take out a worldwide health insurance plan before you relocate, no matter where in the world you are moving. As the rules and regulations become more complex, it is more vital than ever before to be protected.

E-prescriptions             

This is something we have already started to see and it will only become more and more popular as the year continues. What is E-prescribing? This is essentially a technology framework that gives physicians the ability to write and send prescriptions to a pharmacy electronically. This eliminates the need of having to write out a prescription. There are many benefits associated with this. Not only is it more efficient, but also it actually reduces the number of legibility issues and increases prescription accuracy. This is definitely a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.

Strain on state-funded systems

This is not a new trend. It’s a continuation of something we are already witnessing in a lot of countries. The demand on state-funded health systems is increasing by the day in many nations around the world. This is largely because of an ageing population, but there are other influencing factors. Take the UK as a prime example. The increasing obesity issue places further demands on the health care industry. Because of this, there is a huge strain on fully funded state-based healthcare systems. Not only is this leading people to take out private insurance polices in order to benefit from a better level of care, but governments will be taking active steps to try and reduce this issue. As mentioned earlier, one move a lot of countries have made is to enforce private medical insurance for all expats.

All in all, from digital health care to more sophisticated data security, this is a glimpse at some of the main trends we can expect to witness throughout the year ahead. It is vital to be mindful of this, as some of these points will undoubtedly affect you, especially the rise of digital care. Look out for new apps and other digital introductions that are likely to enhance the industry.