The world as we’ve known it has changed dramatically over the last few months. COVID-19 has transformed the way we work, interact, shop, and even how we access healthcare. Though it’s difficult to predict anything with certainty, some trends are likely to continue throughout the rest of 2020 and beyond.
Here are five healthcare industry trends that we expect to continue well into the future:
1. Growing demand for telehealth options
In recent years, telehealth adoption has slowly but steadily increased. Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the need for practices to deploy telehealth services sooner than later. The American Telemedicine Association estimates that more than 50 percent of healthcare services will be consumed virtually by 2030—and with COVID-19 illustrating greater need, it’s certainly plausible.
Additionally, younger generations crave this level of service; 74 percent of millennials said they would pick a virtual visit over an in-office appointment. And although there has been hesitancy among older generations when it comes to embracing telehealth, the global health crisis is reshaping opinions. From a survey of 2,000 adults in the U.S., two-thirds of respondents said COVID-19 has increased their willingness to try telehealth in the future.
2. Change in Check-In Workflows
Drive-thru style testing for COVID-19 proved the plausibility of patients staying in their cars as part of a workflow for receiving healthcare.
As patients begin to return to their provider’s offices, we may well see cars doubling as personal waiting rooms. Packed office waiting rooms will likely be a thing of the past. Check-in may be modified to achieve social distancing with patients waiting in their vehicles after checking in via text and filling out forms on their devices while still in the driver’s seat. When it’s time for the patient to enter the office, the provider alerts the patient with a text or phone call and they go directly into the exam room, bypassing the waiting room altogether.
No clipboards. Less exposure. Greater safety and efficiency for patients and staff.
3. Rise of healthcare consumerism
Consumer attitudes and preferences have changed drastically in the digital age. Today, consumer decisions are driven by convenience and mobile-friendly applications that allow for instant access and self-service options. Consumers are also more willing to switch brands for more convenient, affordable options.
Not surprisingly, healthcare consumerism is no exception. That’s why it’s essential for providers to make every effort to understand patient expectations and improve engagement. Embracing digital tools for on-demand engagement opportunities, such as the patient portal, is an excellent way for practices to work toward this goal and improve the patient experience.
Here’s how two experts described the shift to healthcare consumerism in a Rice University report:
“These attitudes will only heighten with future generations, and it should come as no surprise that they greatly influence how people interact with the healthcare sector. The increasing prevalence of walk-in clinics, patient experience and satisfaction surveys, online physician reviews, telemedicine, and concierge medicine speak to this.”
4. Effective Patient Management
With the possibility of a second wave of COVID-19 infections following the recent loosening of restrictions, it will be paramount that providers have the tools they need to effectively manage patients outside the office.
The financial strain the virus put on small provider groups that had to close in the first wave of the pandemic means that closing down a second time might force a situation from which they could never recover. That means providers must decisively communicate with their patients, assuring them that systems are in place to protect their safety when they come in for an appointment.
Effective communication can take many forms from texts to emails to phone calls, and automation relieves staff from manual workflows.
5. Advances in artificial intelligence
The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning is presenting new opportunities to transform care delivery, effectively improving patient outcomes and coordination between patients and providers. It’s expected that these technologies will continue to advance rapidly and play an important role in healthcare over the next few years.
From self-service chatbots and administrative applications to computer detection systems for diagnosis, AI is already increasing accuracy and efficiency in healthcare. These technologies are transforming healthcare in several ways, enabling early disease detection, clinical decision-making backed by big data, and streamlined drug discovery.
Additionally, AI technology continues to enhance engagement and improve adherence, empowering patients to be more involved in their own care decisions. A Deloitte survey found that 79 percent of AI early adopters believe it empowers people to make better decisions, which easily translates to healthcare. As AI technologies advance, we can expect this trend to continue throughout the remainder of 2020 and beyond.
Using Digital Solutions to Get Ahead of Healthcare Trends
As we navigate these changes in the weeks and months ahead, the need for digital solutions to engage and empower patients is clearer than ever before. InteliChart offers a full suite of patient engagement tools that integrate with existing systems, including a patient portal and telehealth solution.