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The modern U.S. workforce is in a constant state of flux. New job specialties (machine learning engineer) emerge while old careers fad away (switchboard operator) usually due to improved technology. The same dynamic is holding true in the field of medicine. Technological advancement, policy changes as well as the demands of the healthcare marketplace are changing the American healthcare system.

Over the last few decades, there has been a rapid expansion of medical specialties in the United States. Much of this growth has been driven by the advancements in medical science and care delivery. As the medical field evolves, so must the type of healthcare practitioners. As diagnoses and treatments become more complex, the need for additional formal training for specialty competence is required. With that in mind, here are three emerging medical specialties that are expected to grow in the future.

[1] Medical Virturalist:

As of February 2018, there are roughly 860 000 physicians with active certifications through the American Board of Medical Specialties and 34 000 through the American Osteopathic Association. One potential area that currently has no medical specialization is that of medical virtualists or telemedicine. These professionals are needed due to the fact that the telehealth market is expected to rise 30% each year between 2017 and 2022.

Newer digital and internet technologies are driving the growth in virtual healthcare or telemedicine. As patients behave more like a consumer of healthcare services, they are encouraging more physicians to deliver virtual care. Telemedicine specialists are an efficient way for health systems to deliver second-opinions, offer telepsychiatry as well as telestroke services.

Many health systems are adding telemedicine features to their overall bundle of patient services. In these cases, they use their own healthcare professionals or those employed by a telehealth company in order to provide primary care triage, specialty consults, and virtual rounding.

With healthcare focusing on value-added and quality of care issues, an increasing number of health systems will continue to expand virtual care options. These means that healthcare professionals need to possess the necessary technological skills in order to provide virtual interaction with their patients. Medical virtualists should spend several years in a traditional clinic setting before specializing in the virtual healthcare. The clinical skills and knowledge accumulated from direct personal contact with patients are invaluable.

[2] Cancer Immunologist:

Using the inherent strengths of the human body’s immune system to fight malignancies is an exciting and expanding field of medical research. This burgeoning field is created opportunities for new doctors particularly with the recent approvals of immunotherapy-based treatments for various cancer types. This medical specialty is changing quickly as researchers unlock more of the mystery surrounding DNA and the bodies complex immune system.

Immunotherapy is a comparatively new type of therapy that is currently being used to treat many kinds of cancers. Much of this therapy is still in clinical trials. The types of immunotherapy that are commonly used are biological response modifiers, colony-stimulating factors, tumor vaccines and monoclonal antibodies.

However, there are still new clinical challenges. New treatments like CAR-T cell therapy can cause alarming and even fatal immune overreactions, and drugs known as checkpoint inhibitors have led to the emergence of new forms of autoimmune diseases like inflammatory arthritis and even type 1 diabetes, among other adverse effects.

Many health systems possess a shortage of doctors in the field of Immunotherapy. Hospitals are not always well equipped to treat new diseases with these new therapies. This medical specialty is still evolving but currently, this area of practice needs medical researchers who can identify specific markers and phenotypes in patients. This kind of genetic data provides information about which patients are likely to experience certain side effects from the immunotherapy treatments.

[3] Clinical Informatics:

The third emerging medical specialty is also called biomedical or healthcare informatics. Clinical Informatics is basically defined as the integration of health-care sciences, computer science, information science, and cognitive science in order to assist in the management of healthcare information. Essentially, clinic informatics is a multidisciplinary field that focuses on the management and use of patient healthcare information.

Over the last decade, large technology companies have been migrating to the healthcare industry. Corporations like Google and Apple are used to working with vast amounts of seemingly random data points and extracting a logical and accurate conclusion from the information. However, not every health system or hospital can achieve the same results with their data.

There have been massive advances in the amount of data that our society generates as well as an organization’s ability to harness, understand and leverage this data. The intersection of these two trends is commonly referred to as Big Data and has helped businesses in every industry become more efficient and productive. Clinical informatics is seeking to apply the same logic to the complex field of healthcare.

Beyond simply improving revenue and reducing waste, data analytics in healthcare is used to coordinate resources and deliver a better quality of care. Patients benefit from informaticians’ ability to collect, analyze and apply medical data directly to the delivery of care decisions. Data points produced throughout an individual’s healthcare experience are a driving force behind clinical informatics and its ability to create advancements that directly benefit patients.

The fact that clinical informatics are able to collect and analyze a patients’ health information and applying those insights to improve the overall healthcare experience is invaluable. This includes everything from making better clinical decisions, streamlining administrative processes to guiding medical research efforts.

In addition, the field is receiving a boost from provisions in the Affordable Care Act, which mandated the use of electronic health records (EHR). This medical specialty allows physicians to become chief medical information officer or chief health information officer. Clinical informatics training also allows healthcare professionals to find work with EHR vendors, technology startups or medical research.

As a company that specializes in revenue cycle management for a variety of healthcare professionals, we will stay abreast of these changes. For additional questions about this topic or general questions about healthcare revenue cycle management – contact us. At ABCS RCM, we offer experienced medical billing solutions, credentialing services, web design/SEO/PPC and workforce management tools for HCBS Waiver provider agencies.

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Medical Virturalist, Cancer Immunologist, Clinical Informatics,