2020 was a difficult year for all sectors and probably most of all the healthcare industry. Many healthcare providers saw their financial plans decimated. Virtual care rocketed and patient behaviors went through a drastic change. Some of these challenges will carry into 2021 and the solutions for healthcare will mostly focus on finding a new normal.
Adjustments in Telehealth Delivery
In 2020 the pandemic led to a rise in virtual healthcare. Providers had to meet patients where they were. There were mixed results due to the varying degree of telehealth experience among caregivers. This did not hinder the 50% boom in telehealth which grew from an alternative to a primary healthcare delivery method.
However, telehealth is not a one-size-fits-all, and therein lies the challenge. Certain medical specialties like mental health and obstetrics benefit from virtual delivery while others don’t. Senior patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia require face-to-face sessions. Additionally, the lack of personal interaction in some telehealth models led to a subpar experience for the patient.
In 2021, healthcare providers will be looking beyond providing basic telehealth. They will need integrated solutions that create a care pathway for virtual patient visits to run smoothly across departments.
Industry providers will need to determine which specialties most benefit from virtual visits and which ones don’t.
Better customer experience and fewer dropped handoffs facilitated by care coordinators will be crucial targets. Payers will also have to iron out which telehealth services to reimburse and how virtual care fits within the larger healthcare ecosystem.
Building Digital Solutions To Ease Physician Load
Apart from the patient load, physicians’ workload is choked with detailed administrative tasks and the challenge of inadequate electronic health records systems (EHRs).
Never-ending drop-down menus and regulatory reporting requirements impair physician’s efficiency and make it harder for them to provide a good experience for their patients.
In 2021, payers will need to invest more in enhanced portals to automate patient handoffs between systems as well as having access to different claims without manual intervention.
Nearly, 91% of executives in healthcare and life science businesses plan to prioritize clinician experience in 2021. This will entail investing in healthcare digital marketing technologies to devise targeted outreach strategies for physician liaisons. They will in turn create demand and make the physician referral process better.
These marketing solutions will be integrated with scheduling and patient outreach platforms to reduce cancellations and improve the clinician experience.
A Resilient and Responsive Supply Chain Long-Term
One of the biggest problems in healthcare arising in 2020 and rolling over into 2021 was the realization that supply chains had become rigid and were built on outdated frameworks. The medical supply chain needs to be more nimble, transparent and diversified.
Healthcare industry stakeholders will need to triangulate supply chain risks and increase transparency with their suppliers’ suppliers to avert shortfalls and supply interruptions.
They will need to secure the supply chain with manifold measures such as
1 Onshoring manufacturing
2 Consolidating data across the network to improve supply chain visibility and capacity
3 Dual sourcing strategies
4 Diversifying geographies and material sourcing
The above are only 3 of the biggest challenges facing healthcare in 2021. Providers will need a multi-pronged approach to these healthcare issues. A combination of robust strategies, intuitive technologies, and key partnerships with patient engagement services providers and healthcare advertising companies will help them improve patient uptake and delivery of services.