COVID-19 took everyone by surprise in 2020. The global pandemic exposed many cracks in the healthcare foundation and shattered the healthcare system. Will 2021 be more of the same? What trends can healthcare providers expect and prepare for?
Here are 5 healthcare forecasts all healthcare providers can anticipate in 2021
- The Telehealth Boom Will Continue With An Emphasis On Telemonitoring
Telehealth made its debut in 2020 in the midst of a global pandemic. Patients receive greater access to healthcare through telehealth service, especially those patients living in underserved communities. Mental health services in telehealth will increase and be more accessible to patients. According to a WHO survey, the demand for mental health services for multiple conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorder, or drug disorders, are expected to increase. From January to September 2020, the amount of people looking for assistance with anxiety increased by 93%. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, youth ages 11-17 have been more likely than any other age group to report moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression. Mental healthcare demands will be a sizable driving force in this healthcare forecast supporting virtual patient-healthcare provider consultations in 2021.
Telemonitoring will continue to be a useful tool for both healthcare providers and patients. For patients with chronic illnesses, such as heart disease or diabetes, devices and apps have been developed to allow healthcare providers to “check in” on things like blood pressure, blood oxygenation, or blood sugar levels from a distance. These at-home technologies make room for potentially life-saving interventions while isolation restrictions persist.
- PPE Modernization And Shortages
As COVID-19 hit in 2020, many healthcare organizations experienced shortages with PPE’s (Personal Protective Equipment). Officials from healthcare and manufacturing industries have predicted shortages of PPE’s could persist for years without strategic government intervention. It’s up to healthcare providers and healthcare organizations to ensure personal safety in the workplace and demand for appropriate PPE’s to be provided.
Technological advances and modernization in the hands or free technology will cause more hospitals and healthcare organizations to rethink how PPE’s are used. Hands free technology can save time and valuable resources. Much PPE is wasted. Every time a healthcare provider leaves a room to communicate with a colleague or get more supplies, he or she must leave isolation, remove PPE and put on a new set to re-enter the patients room. Voice-controlled devices worn under PPE will ensure healthcare providers can communicate without interruption in care.
- Physician Shortages = More NP’s Taking The Lead
In many communities, there is a decrease in physicians and healthcare providers. Only 8 percent of physicians enter a primary-care residency, according to AANP’s (American Academy Of Nurse Practitioners) findings published in 2019.The PCP shortage can especially be seen in rural areas. At the same time, Baby Boomers are aging, and the number of those 65 and older is estimated to reach 55 million in 2021, according to AARP.
The number of NPs in the US topped 27,000 —nearly double the number in 2010. Annually, NPs complete more than 1 billion patient visits. Currently 28 states offer nurse practitioners full practice authority. More and more states are following this healthcare forecast. The UCA predicts that staffing models relying on NPs and PAs will “predominate as the primary care physician deficit continues and more states legislate enhanced scope of practices for these advanced practice clinicians.”
- Walk In Retail Clinics And Urgent Care Centers
CVS reported a 600% surge in the use of its retail health clinics via telehealth and a big jump in home prescriptions delivery in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic. CVS operates more than 1,100 Minute Clinic Locations inside it’s CVS pharmacies and Target stores in 33 states and the District of Columbia, were big contributors to the company’s performance in the first quarter caseses of COVID-19 spread through the U.S.
In 2019, the total number of Urgent Care centers grew by 6%. According to the Urgent Care Association (UCA) there are roughly 89 million patient visits urgent care centers each year. In 2020 urgent care centers became COVID-19 testing sites as well as vaccine distribution centers and is projected to continue in 2021.
- Demand For Temporary Nurses Will Continue To Surge
There’s no doubt that the pandemic supercharged the existing nurse shortage in the United States. Nurses are always in short supply. With more cases of COVID-19 erupting and more frontline workers getting sick, the need for temporary nurses will continue to grow. Registry and Locum Tenens companies are sure to see a surge in nursing needs from healthcare facilities nationwide.
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