The Covid-19 crisis is far from over. Its impact is going to be felt even decades from now. Some things will never go back to what it was pre-Covid-19. Healthcare is one of them. One of the good things that have come out of this is the adoption of digital technologies to provide healthcare. Telehealth, telemedicine, and virtual health are all must-haves for healthcare providers today. But it’s not just digital technology that is required to transform the healthcare sector. Governments, regulators, hospitals, insurers, and even the masses need to come together to ensure better healthcare.
The Covid-19 crisis has had a very negative impact on smaller clinics and hospitals. Outpatient visits have dropped and a few elective procedures mean that revenues are negligible. However, this can’t go on for long, there comes a point where cancer patients, people with heart diseases, and chronic illnesses will need medical care and attention.
1. Digital Transformation
The healthcare industry has a lot of hurdles such as stringent regulations, complex governance structure, a slow decision-making process etc. However, for industry topics such as interoperability and secure data exchange, both of which are crucial for widespread telemedicine, things are not so easy. But due to the pandemic, the healthcare industry in some countries has seen a great loosening of regulations. For telemedicine and virtual health to be successful, there must be an exchange of patient information between hospitals and healthcare institutions. Else, healthcare systems will fail to cope with the burden. For example, many countries in order to combat Covid-19 setup a digital portal where health institutions could exchange patient information. Such collaboration between public and private institutions will be paramount in the future for healthcare.
2. Investment in Telemedicine
According to a survey of 2700 patients by Accenture, 60% of them said that they would like to use technology to meet with healthcare providers and manage their conditions. Experts and advocates in the healthcare industry for years have argued that with telehealth, healthcare can have expanded access and can become much more affordable. Physicians too have developed a liking for telehealth as a great alternative to out-patient visits and appointments. Thanks to Covid-19, healthcare providers will definitely start investing in telehealth technologies at a large scale.
3. Strain of backlog in elective procedures
According to the American hospital association, Covid-19 has collectively resulted in US hospitals losing $50 billion per month since the month of March. It also estimated that by the mid of August, at least 18 hospitals in the US had closed. Smaller clinics and private practices have also closed down due to pandemic related movement restrictions. Post the pandemic, elective procedures and outpatient visits may lead to a spike in demand for healthcare services and a significant loss would mean the healthcare system may never be able to cope with the deferred cases.
4. Lowering the cost of healthcare
By 2028, the US alone is said to spend $6.2 trillion on healthcare. This figure was estimated at pre-Covid-19. However, post the pandemic there is going to be an aggressive push to cut spending on healthcare by healthcare payers i.e. government, private insurers, and employers. A new model of Value-Based Care (VBC) is set to emerge where providers are reimbursed based on quality (or value) metrics, as opposed to the quantity (or volume) of services delivered.
5. Attracting and retaining healthcare professionals
According to a recent report by the WHO, there is a global shortfall of close to 6 million nurses. Over the past few months, we all have read about their sacrifices and how they’re going over and above to save our lives. However, there is an underlying threat that they may feel frustrated and overwhelmed due to the Covid-19 crisis. While that may happen there is also a hope that younger medical aspirants are inspired by the enormous difference they can make to society and choose a career in medicine.
While the Covid-19 crisis will definitely revolutionize the healthcare system for good, it has also impacted the way the education sector works. Let’s understand what’s changed and what will transpire post the pandemic.