The talk about the future of healthcare did not start today. Even before the pandemic, stakeholders always envisioned the healthcare industry and what it could be in 2030 or 2040. However, the novel coronavirus and the ensuing pandemic gave rise to new changes and sped up some of the envisioned advancements.
Ideally, the response demonstrated by healthcare employees and experts in treating the novel illness and adapting to the unexpected changes remains remarkable. They moved with outstanding courage, speed, and flexibility to take care of a drastic situation that threatened humanity.
Doctors, clinicians, and policymakers moved quickly to embrace telemedicine, establish new medical facilities, facilitate home visits, and develop COVID19 vaccines. Of course, there has also been an acceleration to modify health pricing and insurance policies, and insurance agents take significant credit for this.
Health Care Industry Changes Created by Covid19 That Could Be the New Normal
With more than 173 million US adults now fully vaccinated against coronavirus, everyone is pretty confident that normalcy will return in most aspects. Besides, most states have either announced dates for lifting the health-related restrictions put in place over a year ago or lifted them altogether.
But as the general populace continues to bank on the two developments with the hope of getting back to life in the pre-Covid19 days, health policy experts have different imaginations.
Like in many other fields, most multi-billion-dollar healthcare industry changes were pretty abrupt and unexpected. All the new developments were rather necessary, and they came about with the adoption of a new health consumer behavior.
Notably, the introduction of social distancing practices to minimize viral exposure meant that many patients developed a phobia for most public spaces. There was also a lot of grief, fear, and uncertainty among patients.
The result was that adults, particularly the elderly, avoided clinics and hospitals, thereby transferring the bulk of the burden to caregivers. More importantly, the unexpected consumer behavior prompted policymakers in the healthcare industry to develop a framework for responding to unforeseen needs.
The new framework, which was motivated by the need to make healthcare more available, accessible, effective, and affordable, has not only proved beneficial during the pandemic but could also stick around with us for several years as the next normal.
Apart from bridging the notable cultural shifts, these changes aim to solve crises exposed by the pandemic, including the biased health care system between brown and black communities and the difficulty of navigating the health care system without assistance.
Some of the new developments include;
Care Model and Site-Of-Service Transformation
The first and arguably the most significant change that we could live post-Covid19 is the redefinition of health and being flexible enough to acknowledge that healthcare does not have to happen only in medical institutions. Although healthcare was primarily designed and conducted within formal medical setups such as clinics and hospitals, this can no longer be the case.
Organizations, health care providers, health insurers, and policymakers must rethink the services they intend to offer consumers and where and when they will provide each service. It is vital to note that the care model and site-of-service transformation in the healthcare industry post-Covid19 will encompass location, types of services, and related service costs.
Automated and virtual care will stick with us forever. And with that, health consumers expect to access health where it is safest and most convenient for them. Dr. Shantanu Nundy, in his book, is pretty optimistic that the future of the health industry lies in “distributing care.”
Thus, without eliminating traditional health care and medical settings such as clinics and hospitals, stakeholders will have to consider redistributing care services to homes, communities, shopping stores, barbershops, spas, churches, and pharmacies. Besides, online platforms will equally be hard to ignore as many consumers have an on-time demand for healthcare services on the go.
Types of Services
The Covid19 pandemic catalyzed the need to redefine health services. It shifted from the traditional misconception that health is about the sickness of the physical body or otherwise. Instead, health now means the overall goals and objectives towards a sound mind, body, and spirit.
Health services now include diet regimens, exercises, spirituality, among others. The goal of these services is to promote and maintain physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing. Our agents will clarify that many benefits related to these are now part of popular insurance plans.
Although the Covid19 pandemic posed a significant challenge in the healthcare system, just like in most other industries, one of the most significant victories post-coronavirus remains the discovery that distributed healthcare is impressively cost-effective.
The novel illness effectively puts the consumer at the center of all health care decisions. The result is continuous implementation of partnerships across competitors and niche players in the health ecosystem.
Digitalizing Health Care or Adoption of Virtual Care
You will probably need to understand that digitalizing health care goes beyond using apps, computerized medical records, and electronic referral systems. Instead, the primary concept in telemedicine relies on leveraging telemedicine to provide timely care services.
With extreme connectivity, on-demand services, self-service, and online access being a norm in most industries, the healthcare industry was always warming up to this, even before Covid19 struck. However, what healthcare providers and consumers went through at the beginning of this pandemic catapulted the sector to adopt telehealth.
The government and other stakeholders also appreciate the need for virtual health care services. In turn, many government agencies temporarily eased the regulations regarding the adoption of telemedicine. Even more, care payors significantly reduced or scrapped existing payment barriers to facilitate the adoption and effectiveness of virtual health.
Ideally, most of the digital transformations were abrupt and unplanned. Thus, they were bound to experience some challenges. The rollout and experience of these services were uneven, challenging to navigate, and came with serious technical glitches. Of course, improvements are underway to make remote health care flawless, affordable, and effective.
Despite the challenges, telehealth remains pretty effective, with up to 84% of users claiming maximum satisfaction. The implication is that telemedicine can only get better with slight modifications. Moreover, there are plans to make the lifted regulations by government agencies permanent through senate enactments.
Among the initiatives that will make telemedicine more effective in the future include defining an enterprise-wide remote health strategy, being more consumer-centric, training the workforce on the changes, and striking functional partnering and collaboration mechanisms.
Decentralizing Health Care
Health has arguably been the most centralized and highly regulated sector. Of course, the regulation has been for all the right reasons—to ensure everyone operates within the ethical standards.
But this also means that doctors can only operate within the policies of an insurance provider and can only charge for what an insurance provider allows. At the pandemic’s peak, medical practitioners came face to face with some of the most urgent and dire situations that they could have managed better if they did not have their hands tied.
These situations heightened the calls for a more decentralized healthcare system to have urgent needs handled with the urgency that they deserve. And in response to these calls, the industry continues to yield, slowly but surely.
Decentralizing care broadly refers to a new care model where core decisions about care provision rest in the hands of those closest to the point where the services are required. So, the pandemic brought about the need to have patients and doctors make vital decisions, and this transition could stay with us for a while.
Among those that are now decentralized are core decisions for doctors, caregivers, and patients regarding essential payment and service-related parameters. And to complement this, we decentralized our agents to ensure that our members can enjoy making the right decisions about their health at the right time.
How the Next Normal Could Be Like
Based on the above innovations and transformations, a new normal is nearly inevitable. Ideally, the new ways of doing things will focus on making healthcare more accessible and effective healthcare services without overlooking corresponding service costs.
The disruptive innovations aim at establishing long-term industry-based competitive pricing reforms. Indeed, these reforms were quite abrupt and unplanned, as we already mentioned, but they are a masterstroke in the industry, and embracing them could ideally usher more light to the future of healthcare.
Though harsh and unforgiving, the coronavirus pandemic significantly contributed to a better healthcare system with stronger doctor-patient relationships. Besides, the changes in the sector promote a transparent, open, and more patient-centered care system. These gains are remarkable but could be eroded by monopolizing health care.
Finally, the Covid19 pandemic lessons are a projection of what to expect in the future. And apart from reforms by the mainstream players such as doctors, health consumers, government agencies, and health experts, insurance agencies are equally part of the transformation. That is why you can reach our agents at Healthcare Solutions Team for data-driven health insurance plans that are highly beneficial to health care consumers and providers alike.
Healthcare Solutions Team is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the National General Insurance Group and The Allstate Insurance Company.