Is health care going to change radically post-COVID-19?
Just before coronavirus destruction the health care environment was shifting. Patients and doctors alike were gradually embracing electronic health services, embedding health care providers at retail locations and remote monitoring of post-surgical patients.
New approaches to health care provision
Now we use treatment differently than in past generations. With the increase of outpatient surgical procedures and the understanding that results with supervision and effective physical therapy are enhanced in the home, the need for lengthy hospital stays and the beds associated with them are decreasing.
The expanded use of diagnostics, monitoring, and screening is another driving force for improvement in access to health care. These can now be done in nearly any location and over extended hours to satisfy patient needs and increase convenience.
As we move forward with new care approaches, new infrastructure and service needs, and new players disrupting it, "new doors" to health care are beginning to open up and become more prevalent. Analytics can inform locations (virtual as well as physical) that are good candidates for the expansion of care sites. Four of these are:
Consumers want ease, and the pharmacy is taking up a lot of the primary patient experiences in the trend toward one-stop shopping. And the pharmacy is rising to have even greater services in healthcare. The phenomenon applies to supermarket chains, which hire dietitians to advise them in stores. Organizations such as Walmart are pushing this further by incorporating primary care doctors in addition to the eye care by audiology services they have been providing for many years, being a true health care provider for both consumers and staff.
And the movement towards convergence isn't limited to physical stores. Amazon is considering the opportunity to set up a healthcare company only for its workers, which they hope would be a great deal and a higher level of service than their existing healthcare plan. They have supported this with pharmacy services in their customer sector and a step into drone delivery.
Shopping malls on the supermarket
As we see the shift from physical retail to more online shopping, the infrastructure of the mall or shopping center which sponsored shops empties and becomes vacant. Health care companies see a opportunity to transform these areas into treatment facilities. Such repurposed health-care facilities are particularly useful for diagnosis and imaging, outpatient surgery, primary care, and minor injury treatment. Malls and shopping centers are suitable places for health care as they are built for large crowds and are mostly at the center of cities with already developed transit infrastructure and adequate parking.
In the Nordics, developers are considering the purposeful development of health malls in new subdivisions to encourage neighborhood mix and activity, and in an attempt to reduce health problems associated with social isolation. The hope is that these facilities, combined with access to primary care and other health services, would promote wellbeing using AI and predictive technology.
Access to health advice across online platforms began with search engines but with the advent of wearable devices and virtual treatment, it has become more organized and reliable.
The wearables market is set to boom as models of regulation and payment suit the technologies potential.
Over several years' phone access to a triage nurse was standard practice. Increases in connectivity capacity, popular phone apps and the need for social distancing during the pandemic have now rendered virtual face-to - face calls more accessible to both clinicians and customers. Digital treatment over video was introduced in many places around the world to reduce the long distances that many people had to drive to receive support from mental health practitioners. Through time these services spread to other fields, including post-surgical treatment, dermatology, and others.
Caring for our elderly and disabled people
Improvements in access to health care and technology would encourage patients who have mobility problems to see their doctors more often without the travel challenge. Individuals of all ages and abilities can be able to live longer in their homes, rather than moving into a care center. Patients with chronic disabilities should be supervised and cared for in a senior living facility, as they should. In addition, to remain relevant, these facilities would need to enhance their living environment, invest in digital health technology and preserve affordability.
From where do we go?
New doors to access to health care play a role in reducing costs, increasing quality and improving access and service for patients. Transition brings both opportunities and challenges as it does in all aspects of treatment. Some of the new care doors would shed a light on the inequalities and the social health determinations.
Or is the provision of health care evolving as we know it? Yeah, change is inevitable. The transition to interactive digital health services is assisted by many market factors and the COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest convincing case. Using data and analytics in this room can be a game-changer, both in terms of achieving improved patient outcomes, improving wellness (not just health care) and having a holistic approach to treatment that benefits all people.