How will the current pandemic change the face of healthcare?

The current pandemic COVID-19 has had a blow-out with alarming speed, infecting millions and bringing economic activity to a near-halt as a lot of countries imposed strict restrictions on movement to pause the spread of the virus. As the health and impact of the human toll increased, the economic damage has become evident and signifies the largest economic shock the world has experienced in decades.

The current crisis highlights the need for a crucial action to suppress the pandemic’s health and economic consequences, safeguard vulnerable populations, and set the stage for a lasting recovery. For evolving markets and developing countries, many of which face daunting vulnerabilities, it is critical to reinforce public health systems, address the challenges posed by informality, and implement reforms that will support sturdy and sustainable growth once the health crisis ends.

Challenges: 

The growing demand for resources is leaving the healthcare system overstrained and unable to operate effectively. One of the key issues is the safety of frontline workers due to the scarcity of personal protective equipment (PPE) and concerns over their mental well-being. COVID-19 has opened Pandora’s Box for players with the impact clearly visible on the functioning models and financial health. As they try to support while improving products, a sharp increase in queries and claims, rising costs with financial insecurity, rapidly evolving mandates from regulators and government bodies, managing remote workforce efficiency, and keeping cybercrimes at bay are some of the challenges the healthcare fraternity has to tackle.  

While there is a fear of getting infected with the virus, there are also concerns over continuing with other regular treatments. Patients with chronic conditions prefer to delay treatment while there is also the fear of growing cost of premium and risk of losing insurance. 

Changes in the near future:

  • Fast-tracking technology uptake: With digital evolving as the new frontier, the healthcare industry can develop next- gen results by exploring into new intelligent technologies. Artificial intelligence (AI) is gradually being arranged in recent times to predict which COVID-19 patients are at risk of developing complications. By integrating AI into operations, it can be further used to gain quicker access to reports, scans and provide insights into supply chain, logistics and warehouse management. COVID-19 has also accelerated robotics acceptance. Robots are now collaborating with the healthcare staff to screen patients, thus reducing the risk to healthcare workers. Robots powered by AI are being used in surgical operations, and also help analyze patient demographics, claims and clinical activity, refining healthcare services. 
  • Sustainable solutions – Virtual healthcare system: Unlocking the power of data, hospitals can advance their own processes, significantly reduce costs and drive even better patient outcomes. One platform, continuous performance monitoring, data check and predication  can ensure smooth governmental reporting. 
  • Need of preparedness for future pandemic: Pandemics, whether minor, moderate or severe, disturb a large proportion of the people and require a multisector response over several months or sometimes even years. For this purpose, nation-states develop plans defining their schemes and policies for retorting to a pandemic supported by operational campaigns. A pandemic plan is thus a manuscript which is needed to be studied at intervals and reviewed if there is a change in global guidance or evidence-base.

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Overall, the current pandemic reminds us that these changes are important and are here to stay. In more stable times, when new advanced policies are proposed, we must not forget the communal vulnerability we feel in this moment. In the face of this pandemic, we will still find hope in what might lie on the other side.

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