The new healthcare landscape.

As we settle into a new work routine in our (almost, but not quite) post-pandemic reality, we’re all witnessing the many changes that are permanently taking hold. COVID-19 has changed almost every industry with healthcare perhaps being the one impacted most.

The following are three major transformations that the healthcare world has experienced throughout the course of this pandemic (for better or for worse).

  1. Telemedicine gains popularity. With the pandemic came quarantining and new guidelines around social distancing. This new trend caused an acute shift in the way healthcare is provided. Most notably, there was a move to virtual, telemedicine visits as a substitute for in-person appointments whenever possible. In fact, telemedicine use is 38 times higher than it was before the pandemic hit. And this is a statistic that has been stable over the past few months, indicating that it’s a shift that is likely here to stay. The pandemic has shed light on the many benefits of telemedicine for both patients and doctors alike. Patients can enjoy the convenience and cost-savings that virtual doctor visits afford. Instead of driving an hour round-trip for an appointment that may take no more than 15 minutes, they can log on from the comfort of their own home without worrying about added travel time and expenses, or taking extra time off work for a middle-of-the-day appointment. And this level of efficiency crosses over to the HCP side of things, too, in that virtual visits seem to reduce the amount of cancellations and no-shows that can take up so much of a physician’s time.
  2. Misinformation is rampant. Now more than ever, we live in a world where you can find any information you want online. But whether that information is correct is another question, and all the misinformation out there makes it harder for everyone in the healthcare industry to do their jobs right. On top of fighting a pandemic, healthcare workers must also fight COVID-19 misinformation that is constantly being circulated across social and even broadcast media. While this has always been a challenge in the healthcare industry, the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem, highlighting the importance of effective health communication that the public can trust.
  3. Healthcare isn’t immune to labor shortages. Industries across the board have been experiencing labor shortages as a result of the pandemic, and healthcare is no exception. From employee burnout, to workers choosing not to get vaccinated and subsequently finding themselves out of a job, hospitals and doctors’ offices have been hit hard when it comes to finding and retaining employees. It’s important to remember that the majority of frontline healthcare workers have been on the job and working harder than ever since the start of the pandemic. When nurses, doctors, and other healthcare employees were asked why they have left their jobs since mid-February of 2020, a whopping 49% cited the fact that they were burned out and overworked as a reason for leaving. “Understaffed and overworked” accurately describes a changing healthcare landscape in need of a sustainable solution. And while there are certainly no easy answers to this problem, a good starting point is to focus on the well-being of our HCPs. It’s no secret that working in the medical field is stressful, even without a global pandemic. Providing our medical professionals with the resources they need to stay ahead of that stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance may be a key strategy when it comes to HCP retention.

While this list can’t fully describe all the ways in which the pandemic has changed the healthcare industry, it certainly paints a picture of an industry that’s been altered in fundamental ways, and that will need to continue to adapt as our “new normal” fully sets in. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – healthcare is all about finding new solutions to ever-changing problems, and who knows what breakthroughs these challenges may have already set in motion.

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