It is not an understatement to say that 2020 was a year, unlike any other year in history, with a pandemic virtually shutting down the whole world and widespread national protests, 2020 impacted society’s fabric.
The changes were far-ranging and nowhere else were they felt more than the healthcare sector. Amidst the chaos, our healthcare sector stood tall as the first line of defense. And the experience has been educational.
Furthermore, technology and innovation are permanently changing the landscape of this market. With a potential value of $2 trillion, the healthcare market cannot be overlooked. With those words, we bring you our top 10 trends for the healthcare sector in 2021.
But, before you go any further, keep in mind that we are living in extraordinary times. Therefore, any predictions made in this article must be taken with a grain of salt.
1- The healthcare professions will see an increase in enrollment
COVID-19 has been an eye-opener of sorts. Throughout the past year, nurses, doctors, and other healthcare professionals dispensed their duties with courage, bravery, and resilience. These previously underappreciated heroes risked their lives to save others.
And finally, they were given the appreciation and support they so justly deserve. As countries rallied around their heroic healthcare workers, the profession’s esteem grew in the eyes of the public. So, we expect that there will be an increase in the enrollment of BSN and online MSN degrees in the future.
But, the ball is in the court of healthcare organizations to sustain their appreciation for healthcare workers. Hopefully, they will go beyond mere words of praise and demonstrate their appreciation in more material methods.
2- Telemedicine will remain popular compared to the pre-pandemic situation
Telemedicine was ignored for far too long. Not a lot of people know that this technology has been around for 27 years. Unfortunately, it took a global epidemic for healthcare consumers and institutions to take telemedicine seriously.
But, now it is here to stay. More healthcare organizations are embracing telemedicine, with flexible payment options. Major telehealth providers, such as Teladoc and KRY, have shown steep growth rates in the number of virtual and telephonic consultations. Telehealth has successfully eliminated geographical boundaries and made healthcare accessible to everyone.
Even though telehealth’s popularity will decrease shortly, it will standardize 40% of all patient-healthcare interactions. Therefore, we will be looking at a combination of in-person and virtual care options in the future. The telehealth sector will expand to a $50 billion valuation in the coming year.
3- Mental health issues abound
COVID-19 has led to a rapid decline in mental health. According to a survey conducted by WHO, COVID-19 has disrupted mental health in most countries. This issue is exacerbated by the fact that most countries underspend on mental health. Indeed countries spend only 2% of their national health budget on mental health facilities on average. Therefore, people are more at risk of depression, anxiety, insomnia, and drug use.
Furthermore, during the pandemic, territories have reported widespread disruption to mental health services. We expect to see mental health and loneliness headline discussions on wellness in 2021.
4- Faster drug discovery
The pandemic has shone a spotlight on another issue in healthcare – limping drug discovery. Drug development usually takes more than ten years. Still, the pandemic taught us the value of an accelerated drug development program. So, how do we speed it up? Through AI-powered drug discovery.
According to research, AI can speed up treatment by over a decade. AI-powered labs utilize GPU-accelerated instruments to expedite the process. Furthermore, precision imaging analytics tech will give developers better insights from medical images and drive treatment personalization. It is a groundbreaking innovation in the healthcare sector that will enable us to react to future global emergencies within time.
5- The era of the “Smart Hospital”
In the era of smart tech, our healthcare sector got stuck in 2000. Most processes in healthcare institutions are done manually, thus wasting a valuable workforce. With smart hospitals, these manual processes can be automated to scale the work of frontline workers. For example, voice-controlled solutions can improve communication and simplify clinical workflow.
Additionally, healthcare organizations will push toward the digitalization of medical records and other operational data. Furthermore, smart hospitals can save 10% of the overall annual national healthcare expenditures of most countries.
6- Resolving healthcare inequities
Over the past year, the issue of healthcare inequities has prevented access to vital interventions for at-risk populations. Communities with lower literacy levels coming from lower socioeconomic levels got the short end of the stick.
Affluent areas never seemed to run out of critical equipment, while hospitals in low-income neighborhoods faced dire shortages. Marginalized populations faced catastrophic healthcare costs and resultantly refused treatment. We expect (and hope) to see countries work to remove these inequalities in 2021.
7- Safety and wellbeing of healthcare workers
Thousands of healthcare workers globally lost their lives in the fight against COVID-19 due to a shortage of equipment. PPE shortages exposed thousands of frontline heroes to contamination. Therefore, 2021 will be the year of modernized PPE standards.
Hospitals will also invest in hands-free communication tech to save time and resources. Furthermore, hospitals will improve staff wellness and staff health procedures.
There is no doubt about it; 2020 was a year. As the global community faced unprecedented challenges, healthcare institutions adopted a reactive policy to the ongoing situation. With vaccines on the horizon, the pressure on the healthcare sector is going to ease a little.
It is vital not to waste the opportunity and think about the lessons learned during this time. Institutions must think about how to be proactive by analyzing issues in workflow operations.
For far too long, countries have relieved patient burdens at the cost of providers. The healthcare sector is crumbling under the pressure of understaffing and low funding. It is time to move farther from these stop-gap measures to real solutions.