The coronavirus pandemic has put unimaginable strains on our healthcare system. Tremendous pressure coupled with our desperate dependence not only revealed the system’s flaws but is now forcing the industry to change.
As patients, we experience a range of emotions when we visit our healthcare providers (HCPs). (At Outcome Health, we understand this better than anyone else. Check out our 2019 campaign, “In These Rooms”.) Upon receiving a difficult diagnosis, we may feel grief, sorrow, anger, and now with the complexity of the pandemic, isolation. 2021 and beyond will give us an even greater need for our providers to understand us and show empathy. But it will take more than a compassionate bedside manner; we’ll expect our providers to meet our emotional needs over a telehealth consultation. Our confidence in the healthcare system will be shaped by our lived and learned experiences – how we’ve been treated and how people who look like us have historically been treated. This evolution we now demand will come in grassroots-like shifts such that trust, connectedness, and personal ties will dominate how patients and healthcare professionals interact in the new “point of care” (POC) space.
Personal connection will be a persistent thread in healthcare, with impact in other emerging trends as well. Here’s what we foresee for 2021 and beyond:
Healthcare is both physical and virtual
The POC space has shifted beyond the physical four walls of a physician’s office, reigning in Moments of Care™. Healthcare is happening in your living room, your car, your computer monitor and your smartphone screen. The pandemic has ushered in a new era in which patients and HCPs can decide how they connect, whether it’s face-to-face, through a patient portal, or a telemedicine visit. Even beyond the provider offices, access to accurate health and wellness information from HCPs or other patients/patient communities continues to expand. Healthcare now offers more choices than ever before, and with it has become more personal as well.
Healthcare workers are patients too
The strain on our healthcare system this year was immense and will continue to be. Without addressing physician burnout and the mental health of our HCPs, we lose the very human capital that keeps it running. In 2021, health system leaders must address burnout and mental health by arranging sustainable schedules, instituting fair pay and ensuring adequate physical and mental health care for their employees. As a healthcare community, we must step up to ensure that HCPs have the resources they need. And in concert, we – as patients – must do our part to help lessen the burden on our HCPs by taking appropriate health and safety measures: wearing face masks, washing our hands, practicing social distancing, and respecting the recommendations of our national health institutions.
Relevant and empathetic content is key
Because the POC space now exists beyond the four walls of HCP offices, content providers and digital point of care marketing will need to deliver messages that are timely, relevant to the platform in which they are received, and empathic. As Moments of Care™ become more prevalent, so will the need to deliver content that provides educational, empathetic, and valuable patient experiences whenever and wherever patients are meeting with their physicians.
Health disparities must be addressed
Health disparities occur when people don’t have adequate access to healthcare. These disparities lead to higher rates of chronic illness such as diabetes, asthma and heart disease. The COVID-19 pandemic is highlighting health disparities among people of color, as our Black and brown communities are being disproportionately affected by the virus. But while the pandemic has certainly magnified these disparities, they unfortunately are not new. In 2021, our health system must address health disparities among ethnic groups, minorities, and low income communities. Full stop. Key players in the healthcare ecosystem will need to accelerate efforts to expand access to underserved patient populations. Even if the US government increases its involvement, states and cities along with advocacy groups and healthcare institutions must develop innovative approaches to providing prevention, treatment and continuation of care. In addition, Outcome Health believes we must elevate and amplify the voices and perspectives of those who are tirelessly advocating for equity and justice in healthcare and ensure these experts are involved with this planning. Like other movements that have seen a grassroots push for reform, healthcare will too.
We recognize that change takes time. And in collaboration with you and our trusted partners, we are eager to lead this movement. It will take persistence and patience but together, change is possible.
New to Outcome Health? Join Outcome Health’s nationwide network of provider partners.