The healthcare industry has taken its lumps over the past two years. Covid-19. Bed shortages. Staffing shortages. Viral surges, vaccine hesitancy…you name it, the global healthcare system has experienced it, particularly lately.
The pandemic has settled down. Things are going back to normal—or at least have fallen into a new normal. What does that mean for healthcare in 2023 and onward? Let’s take a look.
Understaffed Hospital Floors
Staffing remains an ongoing issue in the healthcare field. Covid-19 saw a great migration of people in all occupations, but this shift has been keenly felt in the world of healthcare. There are hospitals all across the country, all across the planet that find themselves dangerously understaffed.
This trend has given way to the rise of the traveling nurse. Though this position always existed, it never before held quite such a degree of import as it does now. Traveling nurses get paid extravagantly higher than average to relocate to hospitals that may be — though not always are — far from home.
While this trend has helped hospitals experiencing the highest level of demand manage their needs, it’s not a sustainable solution.
For the healthcare system to course correct, it may be necessary to make the field more enticing for entrants, and more livable for those already occupying positions as doctors and nurses.
Nurses work long hours. They experience intense levels of stress, and, since Covid, they have gone into work keenly aware that they might leave with an infection.
If ever there was a recipe for turnover, it looked something like that.
Hospitals are already trying to address many of these problems — prioritizing mental health, looking for ways to raise compensation, and generally trying to improve the work-life balance of their employees. Nevertheless, employee turnover remains a large and dangerous problem for healthcare systems all across the planet.
Data implementation in the healthcare industry has changed considerably with the proliferation of wearable mobile health technology. These devices can be rather complex — heart monitors that transmit constant real-time data — and also relatively commonplace. FitBits, believe it or not, provides a relatively modest, though important range of data points.
Using Fitbit-generated information, caregivers can make fitness recommendations for their patients with the potential for serious overall health improvements. Meanwhile, individuals using their Fitbits get valuable intel on their heart rate and other data points that might not know anything about except for once a year when they go in for their checkups.
Data helps on the induvial level, allowing for highly specific recommendations for patients. It can also help on the macro level, allowing hospitals to figure out where to direct their resources in order to better serve their community.
Data is also used on an administrative level to make staffing decisions, and fulfill supply orders. The more technology and comprehension grows, the bigger the role data will play in healthcare going forward.
In keeping with the digital technology motif, telehealth also has the potential to play a significant role in the future of healthcare. Telehealth technology essentially allows patients to communicate directly with their healthcare providers through digital technology. This might mean a phone app, a computer module, or even a Zoom call.
This is great for the patient because it allows them to address relatively minor concerns quickly. They don’t have to go into the doctor’s office and wait for an hour for a three-minute consultation. Instead, they can have their question answered quickly from the comfort of their own home.
It’s also great for overworked hospitals — especially those suffering from the staffing shortages described earlier. Telehealth technology makes it much easier to get big results out of modest resources. With minor complaints handled remotely, hospitals can divert the majority of their attention toward more serious situations. Patients receive excellent care, and the system itself runs considerably better.
Telehealth technology has been around for a while, but Covid-19 accelerated adoption. Now, it’s available in most major healthcare facilities across the country.
Mobile Healthcare Clinics
Some hospital systems are very focused on community outreach. This could be because the members of the community they are serving lack stable access to transportation, or simply because the geographical makeup of the region makes it difficult for everyone to enjoy consistent access to care.
Whatever the reason, there are lots of situations where people can’t bet to the doctor’s office regularly. This is bad for them in that they are deprived of preventative care. It’s also bad for the healthcare system as a whole. When a significant number of people are unable to catch health conditions early, the hospital network can easily grow strained from a disproportionately high number of serious cases.
Mobile health clinics change things. These modular vehicles allow doctors and nurse practitioners to go directly into the community, making it significantly easier for people to access care. The vehicles can be adjusted with relative ease, making it very easy to provide a wide range of different services based on the needs of the day.
A Growing Movement Toward Mental Health Treatments
Finally, 2023 has the potential to be a promising year for mental health care. Mental illness in the past has been deeply stigmatized, causing those suffering from even very commonplace disorders — anxiety, depression, and so on — to avoid getting life-changing treatment.
Ignoring mental health conditions increases the risk for things like suicide and also significantly decreases the quality of life for the person suffering.
Fortunately, there are a few factors that give mental health treatment in the future a promising outlook. For one thing, stigma has decreased significantly over the last several years. It’s now well known that many people suffer from some degree of mental unwellness. This knowledge has been enough to make many feel comfortable seeking treatment.
It’s also easier than ever to access high-quality care. Telehealth technology extends into mental healthcare. It’s now possible to receive treatment without ever leaving your home. This is good for people who either can’t leave the house or weren’t quite ready to take the step of walking into a doctor’s office.