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How 2022 Will Reshape Healthcare In California

By Cindy Trillo

How 2022 Will Reshape Healthcare In California

The legislation, the growth of technology, and the pandemic will all have major impacts on healthcare in California in 2022. Healthcare programs will provide better coverage for as many as one-third of Californians, while the growth of cloud-based technologies will help hospitals scale their IT solutions. New technology will continue to slowly creep into the healthcare sphere, providing computer-backed diagnosis and analysis to help doctors identify issues and make decisions faster. 

Medi-Cal’s Preventative Care Expansion

A recently approved expansion to Medi-Cal aims to make preventative care more accessible to the one-in-three Californians covered by the state service. Plans now include access to a “care coordinator,” someone who can help secure other services, apply for community-based assistance, and explain medication. Medi-Cal’s Managed Care, Dental Managed Care, Drug Delivery, and Specialty Mental Health wings have been grouped together under a single central authority. This means that in 2022, more Californians will be able to access more benefits more easily without fighting the bureaucracy of four separate programs.

Technology in Healthcare

Between lockdown-induced demand and the steady march of digital progress, cloud-based technology is more accessible than ever. Lisa Davis, a senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Blue Shield California, thinks that scalable, cloud-based technologies need to become a core part of healthcare operations in the near future. Artificial intelligence, machine learning, and big data will all help doctors provide the right care to the right people, but they’re not without their own risks.

The Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) held a symposium on Machine Learning & AI for Healthcare in mid-December 2021, discussing topics such as the legal risks brought on by machine learning in healthcare, the dangers of dataset biases, and why the interface between digital systems and human doctors can be just as important as the digital system itself. A partnership between UC Berkeley, Duke, and Mayo clinic was announced at the symposium which aims to smooth out some of the challenges of incorporating machine learning and AI in the healthcare sphere. Not only will we likely see the results of this collaboration over 2022, but we’ll also probably see some of the shortcomings and pitfalls discussed during the symposium.

OTC Hearing Aids – A New Trend?

In noisy cities like San Francisco hearing aids might become a lot more trendy and accessible. A 2017 law paved a road for manufacturers like Apple to produce over-the-counter hearing aids. While 1 in 3 people between 65 and 74 and about half of the people over 75 are affected by hearing loss, only 1 in 3 of those who would benefit from a hearing aid use one. The growing popularity of Bluetooth earpieces may change things. Not only does the “transparency” mode on AirPod Pros allow the ubiquitous earbud to be used as a hearing aid of sorts, manufacturers like Bose have begun to produce app-controlled digital hearing aids that are available over-the-counter. As 2022 progresses, we’ll likely see more popular electronics manufacturers step up to the plate and add OTC hearing aids to their lineup.

COVID in 2022

Currently, COVID-related hospitalizations are on the rise. Orange County saw an 89% increase in hospitalizations over the last two weeks of 2021. Hospitals statewide reported the steepest rise in hospital cases ever, with an increase of 797 patients over two days. Despite the sudden surge, hospitals have managed to avoid being overwhelmed — so far. Healthcare providers like John Muir Health, a medical center operator in the Bay area, are employing preventative measures to ensure that they can provide necessary care to patients. This includes canceling elective surgeries, stocking up on supplies, and limiting visitors. Other healthcare providers, like Kaiser Permanente, are still keeping their options open. It’s likely that anything involving a hospital stay will remain awkward to schedule during 2022 as the pandemic continues.

A Positive Future

When taken together, these changes have the potential to make healthcare in California smoother, simpler, and easier for everyone involved. Medi-Cal recipients’ ability to benefit from preventative care and community services will keep them healthy and help to free up emergency and urgent care services for others. Cloud-based technology will make it possible to share patient data faster to more locations and help feed a growing network of machine learning and AI solutions with accurate data, honing the network’s ability to assist with speedy diagnoses. Trendy, inexpensive hearing aids will improve the quality of life for older Californians, and the experience that the states’ hospital network has gained dealing with patient surges should help keep CA hospitals available for everyone while COVID continues. With any luck, it’ll be a smooth year of consistent, gradual improvements.

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