COVID-19 changed the healthcare sector forever. The sudden stress on the medical system exposed cracks and weaknesses in many countries and forced practices to re-strategize, fast.
Despite the challenges, practices can also take away some positives. The pressure of doing more with less has helped expose and develop new efficiencies that will serve the industry—and its patients—in the years to come.
However, there is catching up to do. In the future, institutions will need to consider the most significant barriers to offering high-quality care.
Here’s a look at the biggest healthcare barriers in 2021, and some viable solutions.
Critical Lessons in Healthcare and Health Trends in 2021
Although financial consulting firm Deloitte found that countries allocate 10.3% of their GDP on average towards healthcare, spending in actual numbers will differ significantly. The same research, for example, found that the US will spend $12,703 per person in 2024; Pakistan will only spend $37.
While the US is a wealthy country, the disparities in healthcare access—despite how much hospitals are spending—suggests that a change in approach is necessary.
Remote monitoring and care will also remain significant in 2021, even after the pandemic. Telehealth’s industry value is expected to drop by 3.06% to $80.53 billion this year because it was widely adopted during COVID-19. Until 2025, research suggests that the sector will have a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 28.34%. These figures indicate that more practices are willing to make changes to break down existing barriers to healthcare.
How COVID-19 Has Affected Healthcare Provision
With the onset of the pandemic, hospitals and practices had to shuffle their resources overnight. As more hospital space was made for COVID-19 patients, chronic illness sufferers were no longer a top priority and had to wait for the attention they needed.
The resulting uncertainty highlighted the importance of diversifying healthcare portfolios. Practitioners needed to consider how they could continue serving people unable to visit practices in person; whether that was because they were at a higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms and required to stay away from practices, or because they lived away from urban centers.
A Look at Existing Barriers
The pandemic may be winding down, but many are still uncomfortable with going back to receiving in-person care at this time. According to research by PwC in September 2020, 53% of patients said they were worried about returning to their practice because of the pandemic.
Since then, many countries have experienced second and third waves, which only amplified these concerns. Even with vaccines rolling out, some patients might want to stay away until they are confident the risk of infection is gone.
Even once the pandemic is over, the US still needs to address disparities in healthcare access that are caused by geography.
Various studies have shown that people living rurally have more difficulty getting the medical support they need. Most of the primary care Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), for example, are rural.
In cities, people living in disadvantaged or outlying neighborhoods might also struggle to get healthcare. Many urban areas don’t have convenient public transport, making commutes longer.
Despite the Affordable Care Act (ACA), disparities still exist. For example, KFF research conducted between 2010 and 2019 found that people of color, in particular, still faced more difficulty getting adequate healthcare coverage.
A lot of the differences in healthcare availability are driven by external factors. Economic stability, environment, and safety all play a role in addition to the quality of healthcare in those areas.
How Telehealth Is Helping Widen Access to Healthcare and Overcome These Challenges
Telehealth brings healthcare to the home for many individuals. Patients living outside major urban centers can schedule regular appointments without traveling long distances, while practitioners can monitor individuals outside of their consulting times. Telehealth can help bridge gaps for marginalized communities. Patients can request a doctor who speaks their language, and for those with lower levels of income, telehealth visits cost less than in-person ones.
Telehealth also means that people who are hesitant about returning to practices can stay on top of their coverage. Practitioners can offer advice to help manage conditions, and knowing that they can still get the support they need will improve patients’ mental well-being.
How ChronWell Can Help
ChronWell offers a diverse suite of digital health and clinical solutions, including remote monitoring. Healthcare companies will also find a selection of programs designed specifically for certain chronic conditions, enabling you to tailor your plans better.
Institutions will also find that ChronWell’s software is user-friendly and secure, allowing them to improve their revenue and customer satisfaction.
To find out how ChronWell can help your business, contact one of our experts today.
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