The COVID-19 pandemic was entirely unexpected, and it impacted the world in a variety of ways. One of the fields most affected by the pandemic was healthcare. This field struggled to meet the demands of this serious illness, as well as to continue operating under ever-changing regulations and guidelines. While some of the changes to the field of healthcare were temporary, such as a moratorium on elective surgeries, others are expected to permanently alter the way healthcare works in the United States and around the world.
Some of the ways in which the COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized the field of healthcare are discussed below.
1. A move away from long-term care facilities.
During the pandemic, a substantial number of deaths were recorded in long-term care facilities and nursing homes. The patients in these facilities are more vulnerable to contagious illnesses like COVID-19 because of their age and/or health status. As a result, COVID-19 moved quickly through these facilities, leading to severe illness and death for many patients.
This situation highlighted the inherent problems that exist when so many vulnerable patients are living in close quarters. To protect their loved ones, people are now moving away from the use of long-term care facilities and opting for in-home health aids instead. Long-term care facilities and nursing homes have also changed many of their protocols in order to reduce the risk of infections spreading through their patient populations.
2. A change in the way vaccinations and medications are developed and priced.
The pandemic presented a huge dilemma for manufacturers of vaccines and medications. In the past, vaccines were not usually developed or released to the population as quickly. However, during the pandemic, the expedited development of a vaccine became of the utmost importance. Pharmaceutical companies were pushed to their limits, and they were able to deliver. Not only that, but they provided the needed products at an affordable price, thus somewhat improving their reputation among lawmakers and consumers alike. It is possible that pharmaceutical companies will continue these changes into the future.
3. More acceptance of telehealth technology.
Prior to the beginning of the pandemic, telehealth services were used for a variety of different purposes. However, these services were not yet very popular among healthcare providers or patients. When the pandemic took hold of the world, the field of healthcare was turned on its head. Non-essential appointments and procedures were canceled, leaving patients with no way to receive the care they needed outside of telehealth services. In addition, healthcare providers who had previously been resistant to providing virtual healthcare services were forced to reconsider.
As more healthcare providers began offering telehealth services and more patients began to be open to online doctor visits, the popularity of telehealth services grew exponentially.
4. Advancements in telehealth services.
The increasing popularity of telehealth services during the pandemic allowed healthcare providers to meet the needs of their patients without exposing them to COVID-19. However, it also highlighted many problems with telehealth technologies, such as poorly-functioning platforms, limited connectivity, and other difficulties. In order to meet the increasing demand for good quality telehealth services, software companies worked harder to create solutions that were more effective and user-friendly for everyone involved. Today, telehealth services are much more efficient and easier to use than they once were.
5. Better healthcare preparedness.
When the pandemic hit, it became clear that the field of healthcare was not well prepared for a disaster of this magnitude. In the past, it seemed like this type of situation was unlikely if not impossible, and key influencers believed that our healthcare system was sufficiently prepared to meet the needs of the population. After seeing the deficits in the field’s preparedness, however, it is likely that steps will be taken to prevent future disasters by enhancing the field of healthcare’s ability to respond to any new diseases that may arise.
6. More healthcare manufacturing in the United States.
One of the problems the industry faced during the pandemic was a shortage of necessary items, such as masks, ventilators, and medications. Supply chains around the world were disrupted, so these items suddenly became much more difficult to obtain. In order to prevent this situation from occurring again in the future, some experts predict that more healthcare-related manufacturing will be moved to the United States in the future.
7. More responsibilities for non-physicians.
The COVID-19 pandemic put pressure on hospitals, leaving them without enough doctors to provide for all the patients who were struggling with the infection. As a result, many of these facilities relied more on non-physicians, such as nurse practitioners and physician assistants, to play a more substantial role in patient care. As these professionals took on more responsibility and filled the gaps in the system, the important role they play in patient care became more clear. As a result, many facilities have continued to give more authority and responsibility to non-physician staff members.
The pandemic changed the world in many different ways, and these changes were especially evident in the field of healthcare. The lessons and new developments from the pandemic are likely to continue shaping the field of healthcare even as the pandemic winds down.