The COVID-19 pandemic has colossally disrupted – and aggravated the deficiencies of – healthcare systems around the globe in both private and public sectors. However, it has also catalyzed necessary innovation, pushing various healthcare systems to make substantial modifications faster. All of this shed light on the phrase “there’s a silver lining to every catastrophe.”
No doubt, these harsh, life-threatening days have turned us blue, but that doesn’t mean the end is near. Since the virus has changed everything, the healthcare sector is now more alert than ever. It means that we will soon witness a world without COVID-19. And while being the center of destruction, the virus has given us a lot to ponder. The healthcare industry, in particular, has experienced many changes. In short, the pandemic has presented several lessons and challenges for the healthcare system. Without these learnings, we would never have come this far.
Let’s dive deeper into what’s in store for the healthcare industry once the pandemic’s over, including the hurdles and cope-ups.
- Pandemic Challenges
Even before the pandemic hit, many healthcare systems faced a variety of problems. Long-term trends, such as more prevalent chronic diseases and aging populations, have increased the demand for care. Patient outcomes differ widely, and healthcare costs have been rising at an uncontrollable rate. At the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare systems dawdled in adopting analytics and data solutions. But after some time, new technologies began to emerge, and it was like turning a new leaf for the healthcare system. Currently, we’re looking at a future of transformative changes, as called for by stakeholders, including healthcare providers and governments.
Furthermore, clinics, private practices, and hospitals are beginning to expand. Therefore, a need for experienced professionals is on the rise. A graduate with an online MBA in health administration can work in various medical specialties to provide administrative services and supervise workers. It’s an excellent opportunity for those looking to advance their career as well.
- Improve population health
Despite causing mass destruction, the epidemic has served as an experimental ground for healthcare systems. It has forced them to apply rapid-response measures, allowing them to build up mandatory quick adjustment and innovative experiences. For instance, many healthcare systems have been able to divide the population by risk aspects to allocate resources efficiently, such as protecting the elderly. Other than that, they have also employed telemedicine far more quickly than is usual for a non-crisis setting.
With all that, the pandemic is still suppressing the demand for routine preventive measures, such as screening programs and vaccines and chronic care. It is a significant drawback because worldwide, 80 million children have missed routine vaccinations for measles, polio, and diphtheria. Delaying treatments at this rate has a substantial impact on the health of populations, with snowballing penalties for healthcare systems around the globe. Even if the countries augment their typical surgical backlog for optional procedures by 30%, it still won’t be enough. The healthcare system will need at least two years to clear up the build-up of operations.
- Innovation in the delivery of care
Amid the chaos, almost all countries had to do whatever it took to improve patient care. Now, many countries have strengthened their multidisciplinary alliance to battle against the pandemic. For instance, the US and Spain forged public-private corporations to tap into private-sector dimensions and design new digital tools. Healthcare systems in the UK and China created new teams with harmonizing clinical specialties. These include pulmonology, geriatrics physicians, and ICU – all working to treat COVID-19 more efficiently.
Additionally, broken supply chains of products, such as Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), have led to severe shortages.
- Healthcare system effectiveness and efficiency
Most healthcare systems have shifted to more active decision-making and improved their acceptance of data utilization. For instance, Sweden has been able to organize scarce resources and available beds by hiring a government body to analyze, collect, and disseminate data from local health regions. Also, Germany created a new website to share and collect information regarding ICU capacity at all hospitals in the country. Yet various other healthcare systems worldwide, both regional and national, have been unable to create similar measures due to a lack of transparent, reliable, interoperable data. That means that adequate efficiency is still not available in many countries, which is a significant obstacle in reducing the virus. However, the healthcare faculties are trying their best to adapt to these new changes and create a better post-pandemic world.
- Digital care
During the coronavirus pandemic, the need for digital healthcare technologies has rapidly increased among both physicians and patients. For instance, in most European countries, patients’ willingness to use telehealth rose to 60% over pre-pandemic levels.
A German-based insurance company increased its availability of digital services by more than 300% in a matter of days – a massive improvement. Notably, the enterprises with a stronger foundation in digital technology before the epidemic hit were far better armed to answer it. For instance, Finland and Norway both had a flexible, scalable digital infrastructure for their health systems. It radically up-lifted their rollout of COVID-19 response measures. Other countries that lack exceptional virtual care follow up with developed countries to create impeccable response procedures. With such developments, the hope for achieving a post-pandemic era is looking brighter and brighter.
Note that these challenges and lessons were just the beginning; there’s more to come. The most important lesson is that this intense virus we are going through demands the courage to change. History will likely record the coronavirus pandemic as a once-in-a-century calamity. With all that’s said and done, we’ve come a long way. The healthcare system is now more aware of what’s going to work and what will not. The key to survival is to remain persistent and strive for a better tomorrow.