- The pandemic has severely disrupted the healthcare sector, uncovering underlying weaknesses and triggering long-standing changes.
- With its cracks exposed, the industry must now look inward and gestate deep-seated reforms to address the challenges and improve efficiency across the board.
- The new normal will require healthcare providers to leverage technology to promote greater access across dispersed teams and information, timely healthcare delivery, enhanced nurse productivity and decision-making, and faster R&D cycles.
🧑⚕️⚕️👨🏻💻 Which pandemic-induced healthcare trends will persist throughout 2022?
The COVID-19 pandemic dramatically upended everyday life. Within weeks, global populations were grappling with illness, lockdowns, and economic fallout. At the eye of the storm was the healthcare system, which was forced to respond in herculean fashion to contain the spread, care for patients, and develop safe and effective new treatments.
Now, nearly two years after the first known COVID-19 case came to light, healthcare is gradually getting back on its feet. Rapid vaccination has given the sector some much-needed hope, while technologies like cloud-based communications platforms have proven critical in ensuring resilience through enhanced collaboration and superior virtual care experiences.
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Top 2022 healthcare trends
As the new normal approaches, it is apparent that the pandemic’s extensive influence on the health ecosystem will persist for years to come. Here are five top trends that will shape the 2022 healthcare scene and their expected impact on providers:
- A pressing need to rebuild trust
- Telehealth to take center stage
- Refined nursing workflows
- Better utilization of unstructured health data
- Accelerated new treatment delivery cycles
The COVID-19 pandemic brought about a spike in internet use and media consumption. As a result, false or misleading information became the order of the day. Labeled the “infodemic” by the World Health Organization, this period of rampant misinformation fostered a general mistrust for the health sector, which had responded somewhat ineffectively to the pandemic’s advent.
Although healthcare has begun regaining public trust, progress is still painfully slow. Websites and social media accounts disseminating COVID and anti-vaccination propaganda are still garnering attention, leaving the public with more questions than answers.
Looking ahead, care providers will need to boost access to high-quality, evidence-based, trustworthy information. While healthcare has primarily focused on technology innovation and workflow enhancement in the past, more effort will be needed to create a full-fledged experience that motivates patients to take actions based on facts and evidence rather than hearsay.
“Having clear, accurate, and accessible healthcare information will be key to rebuilding public trust in an information-saturated climate.”
Quarantine and social distancing measures disrupted the traditional care delivery model. With physical engagements no longer an option for many non-emergency situations, clinicians rapidly adopted virtual care to maintain customer connections.
Having realized resounding benefits, the health sector will undoubtedly continue utilizing telehealth solutions well past the pandemic, establishing telehealth as a prominent and long-standing fixture in the health ecosystem.
In 2022, healthcare providers will likely take the driving seat in promoting telehealth best practices through robust formal training and active campaigns. Meanwhile, segments like therapy and urgent care will adopt a predominantly virtual model, with in-clinic visits slowly becoming the exception.
“Telehealth has become a permanent and viable tool as we come out of the pandemic and will stand as a pillar of the healthcare industry moving forward.”
The nursing sector received a hefty blow from the COVID-19 onslaught. While nurses were already burnt out and stressed before the pandemic, the outbreak brought their plight to the forefront. A McKinsey & Company survey from May 2021 revealed that 22% of nurses were considering leaving their current position within the year. This rate was 15.9% in 2019.
Now that COVID-19 has loosened its grip, the health sector must focus on deploying technologies and workflows that alleviate stress and make work easier for nurses.
Cloud communications platforms that feature secure and mobilized message, video, and phone capabilities offer excellent opportunities to reduce nurse burnout. The McKinsey survey found that around two-thirds of nurses are willing to use virtual health technologies to deliver care, especially in situations that do not require face-to-face visits.
“Using solutions that streamline clinical workflows will enable health providers to make faster, more accurate decisions and give nurses more time to perform clinical work and interact with patients.”
The pandemic brought health disparities to the limelight. Because of the apparent racial and ethnic variations in infection rates, the healthcare sector saw the criticality of collecting and analyzing data from as many sources as possible during public research and drug development activities.
Looking ahead, organizations will aim to make better use of healthcare data, particularly the 80% that remains unstructured. This step will be vital to acquiring well-formed insights into the health disparity problem.
Artificial intelligence and machine learning will step forward as crucial tools for realizing more value from data. With AI/ML, health systems can reveal valuable insights hidden in unstructured data, which would otherwise be difficult to store, analyze, and share.
“Pandemic applications have demonstrated the potential of analytics and AI not only to lift administrative burdens but also to give physicians the gift of time.”
COVID-19 exposed the deficiencies of medical research’s delivery models. Conventional new treatment development approaches, which typically involve lengthy periods of trials, validations, and approvals, quickly ran out of breath trying to keep up with the ravaging pandemic. By the time the first vaccine was announced, COVID-19 had wreaked havoc for almost a full year.
In 2022 and beyond, the medical research sector will need to become more agile to deliver new treatments when they are required. Organizations are expected to increase their investments in technologies, workflows, and change management capabilities specifically designed to shorten development cycles.
“Time-intensive research programs make it difficult to surface and implement new treatments against the backdrop of a dramatically evolving medical environment.”
Anticipating a more accessible and responsive healthcare sector in 2022
The pandemic has set the stage for a more resilient and responsive healthcare sector. With its cracks exposed, the industry must now look inward and gestate deep-seated reforms to address the challenges and improve efficiency across the board.
All predictions point to a future characterized by more profound use of smart, actionable data, adaptable workflows, and advanced engagement technologies to promote greater access to accurate information, timely healthcare delivery, nurse productivity, well-informed decision-making, and faster R&D cycles.
As a healthcare provider, investing in the right technologies will enable you to respond to emerging trends effectively.
Contact RingCentral today for more insights into the evolving health landscape and learn how a cloud communications platform can help you stay ahead of the curve.
Originally published Dec 14, 2021, updated Mar 15, 2022