History gives us many reasons to doubt our predictions. For example, in 1932, Albert Einstien told the world that nuclear power isn’t possible; in 1916, Charlie Chaplin referred to motion pictures as a fad, and in 2008, Steve Ballmer said that the iPhone would never sell.
As these instances suggest, intelligent individuals might know the facts, but external factors can change the present, influencing our future. That said, we know for a fact that COVID-19 has changed the world we live in today.
It has affected the clothes we wear, how we travel, how we work, and how we eat our meals. However, one sector that was probably affected most was healthcare.
But now, two years after the pandemic struck the world, we are slowly emerging into the new normal of healthcare. In fact, more and more trends are coming out every day that are changing healthcare for the better.
However, assuming that we make great strides in decreasing the social and economic impact of COVID-19, we will start making some critical changes that will undoubtedly improve healthcare infrastructure, reliability, quality, and costs.
That said, let us look at a few emerging trends of the healthcare industry post-COVID-19.
There is a renewed focus on growth opportunities in the healthcare sector.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has introduced massive staffing shortages in the healthcare sector, healthcare facilities are improving their offerings through services like virtual visits and home health services and onboarding more competent staff.
This allows them to tackle a declining workforce through more skilled healthcare workers. Not to mention, they are encouraging their existing employees to register for training courses and acquire different skills through BLS recertification or other education degree programs.
Furthermore, the integration of ambulatory surgery sectors and urgent care is another growth initiative that sees expansion, building a fully integrating healthcare system, and improving the quality of care offered to the population.
Telehealth is now the new norm.
While telehealth is not a new trend in the healthcare industry, the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically accelerated the need for patients to access healthcare services remotely.
Moreover, the pandemic also provided the impetus to break down long-standing barriers in the healthcare industry, including provider resistance, reimbursements, and HIPAA concerns.
Furthermore, to tackle new consumer-patient requirements for a more convenient and integrated healthcare system, integrated delivery networks (IDNs) seek new methods to expand typical telehealth visits.
Instead, they are looking towards more sophisticated technology like vehicle and drive-up services, remote monitoring, sample collection, and other solutions to promote social distancing.
Healthcare facilities are moving towards integrated care and consumerization.
According to a Darwin Research study, around 63 percent of respondents said they had integrated telemedicine into their EHR systems, a statistic at approximately 48 percent a year ago.
However, the most vital point here is that the shift to consumerization from patient satisfaction allows patients to control their desire for care and convenience.
While consumerism was already present before the COVID-19 pandemic, healthcare facilities ensure that patients remain satisfied and stay in the driving seat.
There has been an emergence in automation and AI-based solutions.
Automation and AI have taken the healthcare industry by storm, just like other sectors such as retail, media, banking, business, etc.
For instance, AI has left a lasting impact on radiology, allowing healthcare providers to determine data patterns in imaging to identify risk, eliminate bias-based reading errors, predict redundant tasks and risks, and improve workflow processes.
For instance, an Intel partnership with GE healthcare looks to decrease costs for healthcare facilities utilizing digital imaging solutions and enhance patient care via cloud and edge.
What’s more, both organizations firmly believe their offerings will provide healthcare facilities with improved efficiency via reduced dosage exposure and patient risk, increased asset performance, and on-time diagnoses and treatment delivery.
In addition, large healthcare organizations are utilizing real-time data to drive the care delivery process. For instance, command center platforms combine problem-solving, predictive analysis, and systems engineering to preserve clinical safety and quality while managing the inflow of patients and improving patient experience in the process.
Moreover, using the power of automation, organizations are streamlining the operations that depend heavily on repetitive activities such as customer service and revenue cycles management.
So, expect to see new tech incorporated in healthcare facilities that enhance operational productivity, such as speakers, cameras, weather forecasting, and much more.
The pandemic has forced healthcare facilities to incorporate strong network and data strategies.
The COVID-19 pandemic shows the importance of a community from a system mindset that puts patients at the center of the entire care network. Analytics and data are helping drive unity between researchers, payers, social services, and physicians.
Healthcare facilities utilize insights and real-time information to embrace a patient-centric network and data strategies to address the pandemic’s mental health crisis.
Furthermore, the pandemic is also providing various opportunities to the research community. For instance, the speed at which the COVID-19 vaccine came out reveals that we can quickly deploy the required treatments and therapies.
By unleashing the power of healthcare fueled by real-world data, healthcare facilities can accelerate the deployment and discovery of groundbreaking care techniques and insights while providing the support needed to improve clinical research.
There has been an improvement in healthcare logistics.
The COVID-19 outbreak has made healthcare facilities’ reliance on reliable, reputable supply chains more apparent than ever.
As a result, healthcare professionals have improved access to same-day delivery by moving into the supply chain market, ensuring that the required samples, medicine, and healthcare equipment are available when needed.
Furthermore, with drone technology and robotics advancements, essential healthcare supplies can now be delivered quickly and more reliably than traditional delivery methods.
For instance, UPS has partnered with the WakeMed hospital in North Carolina to test a new drone delivery system to transport medical samples from one location to another.
This solution has allowed the hospital to prevent delays during critical procedures and surgeries, improving care quality in the process.
In 2020 COVID-19 introduced intense pressure on existing healthcare systems and accelerated the need for innovative solutions. Although healthcare leaders had made strides in the past where the pandemic was not even an afterthought, there is no doubt that fully integrated, patient-centric care is the way of the future.