Many would argue that the world is at a tipping point right now. There’s a lot of uncertainty and the younger generation are, understandably, unsure about which direction things are going. One could look at the environment as an example of this. Recently a report was published which highlighted that we could see significant impacts of climate change within the next twenty years. Of course, business industries and sectors are also flooded with uncertainty. The health sector is currently facing a massive shift. There are various issues that are impacting the health industry right now and are expected to continue to have a significant impact over the next few years. So, let’s explore some examples and potentially examine the solutions at the same time.
First, you should think about the coronavirus and the impact that it has on the health industry. The COVID-19 pandemic as a whole has put the world through a ringer. However, this is particularly true for the health sector. There was enormous pressure on the health sector through the coronavirus crisis and even while the situation is improving, that pressure remains. Hospitals were overrun and we are still unaware of just how many lives were lost as a result. Teams also were forced to adapt to social distancing and other safety measures which were put in place to protect patients.
It is believed that the impact of the coronavirus pandemic will stretch on for years and this means that there will be ripples throughout the health industry too. We’re going to talk about a few of these impacts further down. One factor worth thinking about is the fact that the coronavirus isn’t just going to disappear. Experts believe that infections will continue and the virus will remain in the population for generations. While it won’t still be as dangerous, we will ultimately have to learn to live with the virus. This is going to mean more pressure on healthcare systems particularly at critical points through the year such as the winter months.
Of course, research will be critical here. During the worst of the pandemic, businesses, organizations, and governments banded together to ensure that a vaccine could be created and administered as quickly as possible. This level of teamwork and team integration must continue while healthcare systems continue to remain vigilant.
This is tied to the coronavirus pandemic, to an extent. However, it’s important to realize that it’s been an issue for quite some time. It’s not the new occurrence that some people think. Understaffing and skill shortages are common in the medical industry, particularly for jobs that are not considered to level the same benefits or rewards. For instance, there have been multiple reports of hospitals struggling to find the number of nurses. This may have worsened in 2021 as healthcare workers demanded pay rises that they were not ultimately provided. It’s going to be important in the next few years for health teams to ensure that their employees do feel valued in their roles.
It’s also going to be more common for health teams to search further afield when filling roles. Again, this isn’t a new occurrence but it is going to be a more significant part of the health sector. Migrants are going to be essential in filling roles in the health sector that the local population either doesn’t want or doesn’t have the skill for. It is also critical that more funding is put towards training these individuals to take on the roles that need to be filled.
Clinical Trials Are Changing
It is worth noting that clinical trials are also expecting to change. COVID-19 has forced researchers to ask how many clinical trials can be completed remotely and to what extent. From sheer lack of options, it seems the answer is that quite a lot of the processes surrounding clinical trials can be completed at home. Virtual trials, in particular, have become a lot more common. This is a change that many would argue is long overdue and they are perhaps right. The FDA has made several mentions which suggest that these changes are here to stay.
However, there is some debate about what types of clinical trials should be completed in a virtual setting. The main focus is currently oncology, infectious disease, and women’s health. It is believed that this form of decentralization will help guarantee that clinical trials are more effective and efficient. However, there are still a lot of questions surrounding how to leverage the right technology to achieve the best impact.
Digital Connections And Their Toll
It’s hard to think of an alternative to the virtual solutions that were provided by the health sector during the heat of the pandemic. However, the toll of these solutions is also difficult to ignore. For instance, during the pandemic, suicide rates climbed to new heights and there was a wave of mental health diagnoses. Despite many people getting the treatment that they needed, it’s believed that thousands of individuals were overlooked completely and never gained any support from medical professionals.
It wasn’t just those with mental health issues that were impacted either. It’s also believed that the switch to virtual appointments and phone appointments led to medical teams missing thousands of cancer diagnoses. So, if virtual support is the new normal, it’s clear then there are more than just a few kinks that need to be ironed out for it to be an effective solution.
Research also suggests that switching to a largely virtual setup also had a negative impact on the mental health of healthcare providers.
Next, it’s worth pointing out the potential impact of antibiotic resistance on the healthcare industry. Antibiotic resistance is becoming more common and part of the reason for this is that antibiotics are being overprescribed by medical professionals. The trick to prevent this problem is improving the diagnostic process and this can be accomplished with the right technology and the right support that is already available on the market. It’s just a case of making sure that health companies can access these options and deliver the results that patients need and should be able to demand. Ultimately many experts believe that antibiotic resistance is one of the most serious issues impacting the healthcare sector right now.
Next, let’s think about how population shifts are continuing to impact the healthcare industry. It’s no secret that the population is changing rapidly. First, it’s increasing and we will hit a world population of 8 billion in the next few years. This is one more factor that is going to put the healthcare industry under more pressure than it potentially won’t be able to sustain. Places like the UK that provide free healthcare will face issues here in particular with rising levels of debt and unsustainable costs.
But that’s not all. Due to increases in life expectancy, we are also witnessing the growth of an aging population. One that is in more need of medical care than ever before. It’s becoming increasingly important for medical businesses to prioritize care for the elderly because this is the main demographic.
Arguably, with the increased pressure from a growing population, healthcare businesses are going to become far more dependent on automated solutions which free up the time of doctors and nurses. However, even this solution presents more issues in the health sector.
Finally, it’s important to understand the impact of costs. One of the key points here is the level of technology that is becoming a fundamental part of the healthcare industry. It’s impossible to avoid or ignore the role that tech has to play but it’s also difficult to understate how expensive these tech options are going to be for some healthcare businesses. For instance, health organizations are starting to explore how VR can be used in this setting which is great. But VR headsets are still not at a price point that makes them affordable. So these types of investments put more pressure on funds that are already stretched to breaking point. Despite this, simply avoiding investing is not an option either as it will cause health solutions to become outdated.
Instead, one option is to ensure that healthcare companies are saving money in other areas. One example would be PPE and uniforms. Quality made scrubs at Uniform Advantage and similar suppliers are available for budget-friendly prices that healthcare companies and workers can afford. By saving money in areas like this, businesses can find the money to upgrade their technology options.
We hope this helps you understand all the factors that are reshaping the health industry currently and the challenges that are just on the other side of the horizon. Business owners in the health sector need to act quickly to provide the support that patients need and remain ahead of these issues as they continue to develop. It’s fair to say that the health sector is going to look vastly different five years from now and a large part of this will be determined by how these problems are dealt with.