It’s not too early to begin planning for life in healthcare and technology after COVID-19. Our current “normal” paves the way for a brighter future.
It can be hard to comprehend the incredible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic fully. Although I haven’t provided direct patient care for many years, I have many family and close friends on the front lines and in other critical roles for delivering care. I can only imagine the challenges they currently endure to save lives.
I’m reflecting on my nursing career lately, thinking about my time spent caring for people with HIV/AIDS or visiting special ICU beds in Singapore for patients with SARS. While these times were horrendous, the COVID-19 pandemic may, potentially, have an even greater impact on every aspect of how we live, work and relate to others, today and into the future.
We live in a culture heavily dependent on our social media and virtual connections. Still, the forced physical distance from family, friends and co-workers due to stay-at-home and shelter-in-place restrictions has significantly impacted our well-being.
But, there is room for hope. After all, learning new skills can foster new experiences. For example, I recently helped my mother virtually connect with our church community via Zoom, something she would never have considered pre-COVID-19. This connection brought her so much joy and a sense of purpose. She also successfully completed her first TeleHealth visit, including filling her prescriptions, all from our farm in Eastern Iowa.
Moving Forward After the Coronavirus
Here is a look at some ways I think new skills and experiences can benefit healthcare after COVID-19 if—like my mom—they can remain open to recognizing opportunities amidst the challenges:
- Additional blended work environments and virtualization — With the gig economy workforce and the increasing ability to work-from-home, the need for physical office spaces will change. Think of how the rise of eCommerce affects the amount of traffic going to large shopping malls. Healthcare systems can leverage electronic tools to optimize collaboration, efficiencies and cost containment.
- Further expansion of TeleHealth, wearable technologies and predictive health based on artificial intelligence — Healthcare systems will imbed the optimization of value-based care delivery and population health management, including predictive modeling and intelligence from machine learning, across solutions. Healthcare practitioners will continue driving care delivery outside the hospital walls. They will leverage AI to identify people at risk for chronic and preventable diseases earlier as part of this care delivery. It will be our challenge to overcome the infrastructure, technology and connectivity barriers that make it difficult to provide care to rural and disparate populations.
- Greater agility and flexibility for providers, payers, and life sciences — To keep up with the pressures from the big technology companies expanding into healthcare delivery, from Amazon and Apple to Uber and Walgreens, traditional healthcare, payer and life sciences models will need to change. Strategic roadmaps and market competitiveness will depend on the ability to leverage AI to assess trends and shift accordingly to meet the needed diversity of services and staffing.
The Future of “Normal” Healthcare
How do you think your healthcare organization needs to adapt to a different “normal?” What changes will you make in the next three months, six months or beyond to not just adapt to a new normal, but to shape it? What do you see on your healthcare horizon? Thinking through your answers to questions like these today will help us all get through this together tomorrow.