Healthcare is changing. An obvious statement, right?
Looking back to pre-pandemic times, changes in the healthcare industry were already occurring. But COVID-19 turned everything upside down, and amid this upheaval, the healthcare industry – for better or worse – has been at the forefront.
While 2020 has shown that predictions can be risky, there are definitely some trends healthcare professionals should be aware of moving forward. Here are some of the top changes predicted to shape 2021:
Virtual Medicine is Here to Stay
The number of virtual visits for minor or routine visits skyrocketed during the pandemic. As well as reducing the risk of spreading contagion, remote medicine allows medical professionals to squeeze more patient consultations into their busy schedules. This is a particularly vital consideration in areas where doctors are in short supply.
This shift to digital will continue to provide access to care and introduce patients to a higher level of convenience. For many, there will be no going back – and hospitals and practices will either deliver enriching online experiences or find their patients siphoned off by more compelling services.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Will Increase Efficiency
As doctors and hospitals handle waves of COVID-19 cases while facing reduced staff due to illness or mandated isolation, they’ll increasingly look for artificial intelligence solutions to handle some of the work — or anticipate a need before it develops. This will be important from a financial point of view, with revenues falling by 50% in the U.S. due to patients avoiding hospitals and surgeries.
High-level uses of AI will evolve to deliver personalized care. This may include algorithms and machine learning that can accurately detect cancer and heart disease, virtual assistants to deliver medication reminders, and robot-assisted therapy for recovering stroke patients.
Stronger Data Analytics Will Support Widespread Vaccination
Keeping tabs on scores of COVID-19 vaccine shipments — as well as notifying patients clamoring to be inoculated over two separate visits — will require healthcare organizations to deploy strong data analytics and real-time tracking platforms to keep up with the changes.
Along these lines, increased data interoperability between different EHR platforms and healthcare systems will be critical in tracking who has been vaccinated. This will be key for general public health while also ensuring accurate record-keeping if a person relocates or changes providers before the second vaccination.
Changes to Hospital Design and Cleaning Technologies
To keep spaces more sanitary, healthcare providers will be able to use a variety of tools to tackle the critical tasks of deep cleaning and enforcing good hygiene. This will encompass changing layouts and check-in processes to reduce clustering and identify contagious visitors before they enter a building.
Changes may include autonomous robots that emit germ-killing ultraviolet light to decontaminate rooms in 15 minutes. And more hospitals will be using thermal cameras at entryways to detect those with elevated body temperature, a common but not universal symptom of COVID-19.
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