As we move into 2021, it’s fair to say that the healthcare industry continues to be on a fast track for change – creating “new normals” left and right.
Even during pre-pandemic times, changes in the industry were occurring – but COVID-19 has essentially sped everything up and turned everything upside down. Amid this upheaval, healthcare continues to be at the forefront – in some cases, re-inventing itself.
While no one could have realistically predicted the COVID outbreak and the chaos it brought about, there are definitely trends that look very solid for healthcare professionals moving forward. Here are four predictions that will help shape 2021 and beyond:
Virtual Care is Here to Stay
Particularly for minor and routine appointments, the number of virtual visits have skyrocketed during COVID-19 and are predicted by Forrester analysts to hit one billion by the end of 2020. It’s also thought that during 2021 one third of virtual care appointments will be related to mental health issues.
As well as reducing the risk of spreading contagion, remote medicine allows medical professionals to squeeze more patient consultations into their busy schedules. This is a particularly vital consideration when doctors are in short supply.
Keeping Patients on Track with Voice User Interface
The healthcare industry is on the cutting edge of Voice User Interface (VUI) technology. This is an exciting breakthrough for medical professionals that uses speech recognition to understand spoken commands and answer questions.
Interactive VUI technology enables hospitals, health practices, clinics, and insurance companies to reach out to their entire patient population – or a select group – automatically, instead of staff members making individual phone calls. It’s already being used to help patients stay engaged after leaving the hospital or physician’s office – keeping them on track with their prescribed care plan.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) Enabling Fairer Health Insurance and Coverage
The growth in data collected on an individual’s health, means providers have an increasingly accurate picture of where and when intervention may be needed. The coronavirus pandemic has shown that patients are comfortable sharing personal data when the health benefits are clearly communicated. This has been proven by track-and-trace systems that have helped keep infection levels in check.
With revenues falling by 50% in the U.S. due to patients avoiding hospitals and surgeries, there will be an increased reliance on AI-driven prediction tools to forecast where resources can be used most efficiently. Insurance providers will also step up their use of advanced predictive technology to better understand risk and more accurately set premiums.
Hospital Design and Cleaning Technologies will Evolve
To keep spaces sanitary, healthcare providers will be able to use a variety of tools to tackle the critical tasks of deep cleaning and enforcing good hygiene. This will include changing layouts and check-in processes to reduce clustering and identify contagious visitors before they enter a building.
Changes may include autonomous robots that emit germ-killing ultraviolet light to decontaminate rooms in 15 minutes. And more hospitals will be using thermal cameras at entryways to detect those with elevated body temperature, a common but not universal symptom of COVID-19.
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