Few could have imagined two years ago that we would still be living with (and battling against) COVID-19 – nor exactly how significant the impact would be. Whilst the pandemic is not yet behind us though, the development of vaccinations and potential new treatments emerging are slowly but surely helping us to imagine some sort of normality again. The world may never be as we once knew but we seem to be coming to terms with the fact that this unwanted guest is one we’ll have to work around –– and that we’ll largely be able to do so.
The considerable global effects of the pandemic have been wide-reaching across many aspects of our lives, and a number of changes are set to be long-lasting. One area in which this is certainly the case is healthcare, which has seen much adjustment in the wake of COVID-19. So in this piece, we’re exploring the implications and what changes may lay ahead.
The world has been forced to open up to a new way of thinking when it comes to how healthcare is delivered. Advancements in technology are always occurring in the background, and much of this tech was gradually being introduced to meet new needs and optimize patient experiences already. From the onset of the pandemic though we’ve seen how effectively tech could be applied to new methods and systems –– and we should similarly expect to see significant improvements in how healthcare is delivered moving forward.
As outlined by The Health Foundation, changes to primary and community care were mandated with the introduction of digital triage, which has seen much success. Virtual GP appointments and telehealth (as we’ll discuss below) were widely introduced, really with relatively few difficulties. Though some problems still need to be remedied. For instance, elderly and underserved communities are likely to experience difficulties in accessing virtual care, so we expect to see improved systems and versatile adjustments to ensure that tech-based care becomes more inclusive.
The prominence of telehealth was elevated in the early stages of the pandemic. However, due to the urgency of the situation and the rapidly changing circumstances we all faced, many organisations implemented new resources hastily. Now as the quality of telehealth is becoming a greater point of emphasis, the focus is being devoted to the establishment of more optimised services. As telehealth clinician resource Wheel conveys, efforts are now in place to upgrade company systems within the healthcare arena to enable them to provide excellent virtual care. As a result of this direction, we’ll experience better clinicians, improved technology and more strategically integrated services within telehealth.
Supply Chain Focus
One area in which we’ve seen high failure rates during the pandemic has been in supply chains in the healthcare industry. This has triggered much-needed investigations into how supply chains can become more resilient under the stress of massive disruption. The areas that we should expect to see addressed are the collaborative relationships between suppliers and the flexibility and agility implemented in strategies. These changes will be pushed forward to eliminate any risk of repeat circumstances occurring wherein delays cause a critical interruption in healthcare and/or medication availability.
Prior to the pandemic, considerable progress was being made towards developing sustainability in healthcare. With targets having been derailed somewhat over the past two years, the emphasis is now once again being placed on the need to work together to build a healthier and more sustainable future.
Looking at the challenges of sustainability, World Economic Forum identifies the impact the pandemic has had globally and the disruption it caused in progress toward SDG 3 (or the UN’s “Sustainable Development Goal 3, which focuses largely on health initiatives). Amongst all the challenges, we’ve seen difficulties arise with access to treatments for non-COVID related illnesses, disruption to maternal and child health services and a rise in mental health issues. However, with the focus now being pulled back to making progress, strategies and goals are being put in place that will get us back on track in time.
Thank you for reading, and hope you found this article informative. Please revisit Land of Size again soon for more on health, sustainability and related topics!