COVID-19 required many industries to embrace change. The healthcare system in particular had to adopt these changes quickly in order to effectively care for its patients and staff. Whether it was shifting to online care or improving protective practices, medical offices did what was necessary to best serve while at the center of the pandemic.
As we begin to learn from the pandemic, many medical offices are continuing to use the practices that were adopted during the past year because of the benefits they offered for patients and staff alike. Below are a few of the changes COVID-19 initiated in medical offices:
Telehealth became increasingly popular during the pandemic in order to protect both patients and staff and meet the volume of care needed from patients. Even as we make our way out of the pandemic, telehealth is likely to stay because of that acceptance. Providers and patients alike are seeing the benefits, including fewer barriers due to commute, shorter wait times and less person-to-person contact.
The COVID-19 pandemic emphasized the need for personal protective equipment in the healthcare system. Now, some healthcare executives are predicting standards will go even further. In late 2020, HIT Consultant spoke with 30 executives about what to expect in healthcare in 2021, and one highlighted new PPE standards. They predict PPE will include hands-free devices that allow team members to communicate without leaving a room so they don’t have to remove and put on new PPE for routine interruptions.
Both executives included in HIT Consultant’s article and an article in Health Affairs Journal about 2021 healthcare trends mention that currently, too much healthcare data is siloed and not shared from department to department or facility to facility. Both predict that technology will change that. Whether that is with electronic records that better track when patients are admitted, transferred or discharged from facilities, as one expert pointed out to HIT Consultant, or with machine learning and AI, as Health Affairs points out, healthcare data is on the rise, meaning better patient care and healthcare overall.
Another trend experts pointed out in HIT Consultant? The rise of smart technology in healthcare facilities. Wearable technology, AI, smart cameras and speakers are minimizing unnecessary patient interactions and allowing organizations to streamline the work of administrative and support staff members.
COVID-19 shed light on health equity for Black, Latino and indigenous people. As we move forward, ways to understand and address health equity will be an important goal in many healthcare facilities. According to the CDC, healthcare facilities can promote health equity by training their employees to recognize forms of discrimination, creating easy access to service information, providing telehealth options and increasing engagement in their communities.
These changes affect everyone working in healthcare, including administrative staff. Healthcare administrators may find themselves learning new technologies and processes, using new PPE protocols, scheduling online appointments and learning how to better their community and everyone in it. Though change can be difficult, these processes are being put into place to streamline work and improve the healthcare system as a whole.