As 2020 comes to a close, healthcare industry leaders are looking ahead to 2021 with excitement and anticipation. This year has brought a number of challenges and opportunities for innovation, but how will they shape the future of healthcare data? I’ve put together a list of 12 new truths for 2021 – bold predictions about healthcare data that may shape the industry for years to come. In addition to predictions about COVID-19 and the future of telehealth, I dive into more complex healthcare challenges that payers and providers should consider as they round the corner into the next year.

1. The number of Americans willing to be vaccinated against COVID will be less than 50%.

In the past few weeks, two frontrunners have emerged in the race to a COVID-19 vaccine. While both have promised to protect upwards of 90% of those properly vaccinated, many are still skeptical about the prospect of a new vaccine and list negative vaccine reactions as their main barrier toward accepting a future vaccine.

It would serve payers and providers well to begin speaking about the benefits and importance of the vaccine to dispel any misconceptions prior to the vaccine’s wide distribution. Using mediums that will reach both members and providers can help spread education about vaccine candidates and can help improve adoption when the vaccine is available.

2. Medicaid populations will rise.

Many Americans have lost their job, and therefore their employer-sponsored health insurance, due to COVID-19. Many of those people are enrolling in Medicaid to ensure health coverage during the pandemic. This has caused a two-fold problem – With a weakened economy, people need Medicaid coverage. On the other hand, states’ ability to fund the influx of Medicaid enrollees is waning. In 2021, we will see states pushing for more federal funding to avoid having to cut Medicaid member benefits and provider reimbursements.

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