Over the past few years, healthcare delivery has undergone specific changes with new inventions innovations. Many factors have led to healthcare digitalization, including government policies, consumer preferences, investments, and an increase in digital health entrepreneurs.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit many health systems globally. These challenges, however, created opportunities for healthcare systems, including that of the United States, to innovate in real-time. Healthcare providers in several states across the country readily adopted telehealth, which is fast becoming a deep-rooted sector in the healthcare system.
While the pandemic and its impact on healthcare delivery are far from over, it may have effected some permanent changes. Three significant care delivery trends brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic that may have come to stay are highlighted below.
Virtual-First Primary Care
The adoption of telehealth had experienced jerks and halts over the years. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed the status quo and ushered in a new era. At the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, physical healthcare activities and delivery were forced to shut down. To cushion the gross effects, telehealth was introduced and adopted, almost fully in some settings.
As such, many primary healthcare deliveries were done via audio or video. Virtual visits were on the increase, especially for non-COVID-19 and non-emergency care. While telehealth may not efficiently replace physical visits, it has undoubtedly become an integral part of the healthcare delivery industry.
Virtual Specialty Care
Specialty care delivery has also gone virtual with the pandemic. It is, however, not without challenges. Some specialty care cannot exist exclusively digital such as orthopedics and ophthalmology.
On the other hand, several specialties have almost been fully submerged in the virtual world. This includes pain management, sexual health, and mental health, amongst others. Also, tools and devices have been developed alongside to improve accessibility, efficiency, and patient satisfaction.
Stronger Emphasis on Demographic and Social Determinants of Health
If there was one thing the pandemic demonstrated, it was the impacts of social and demographic factors on health disparities and risk-levels of a disease. These factors include income, race, housing, amongst others.
Awareness of social determinants of health (SDoH) is rising, and states, with private organizations, have been making efforts. These efforts have been to help patients in terms of feeding, connectivity, education, and healthcare, as well as providers. This trend is likely to extend into the post-covid-19 period.