In 2020, the world faced a new challenge in the form of the COVID-19. The deadly disease rapidly spread, enveloping more than 180 countries in its wake and soon morphing into a full-blown pandemic. Amidst declining world trade, drastic reduction in people’s income, and a spike in unemployment, the healthcare sector was also hit hard. The sudden influx of patients battling with a new disease and shortage of medical supplies and workforce put a strain on many healthcare systems. Medical organizations realized that they were not prepared for the health crisis. They had to modify their mundane activities to cater to an increasing number of patients’ needs.
Healthcare leaders had to take instant decisions and brought different rules to cope with the crisis and help the community deal with the new disease. Although scientists have discovered vaccines and governments have made SOP mandatory, life seems to return to normal. However, the virus still looms in the air. Health experts predict that even when the virus will be over, it will significantly impact the healthcare sector. Many new medical practices that emerged during the pandemic will become a permanent part of healthcare systems.
The sudden emergence and outbreak of the novel virus threw the medical industry into turmoil and taught many lessons. Some of the lessons that the healthcare sector must learn from the COVID-19 pandemic are as follows:
1. Need of Surge Capacity and Crisis Preparedness
The outbreak of the novel virus burdened the medical sector immensely. Healthcare practitioners had to put themselves at the backend and serve the high influx of patients. Medical organizations came to realize the lack of resources and strategies to battle a healthcare crisis. Moreover, it came to light that healthcare professionals need to equip themselves with the skills essential for dealing with a catastrophe. Many healthcare organizations lacked basic disaster response mechanisms, which became the reason for their fall. However, many healthcare workers are now eagerly pursuing disaster management program to prepare themselves for unpredictable healthcare crises. A disaster management program equips them with the skills and capabilities to devise disaster response and mitigation plans and minimize their adverse effects. The pandemic has taught the healthcare system the need to prepare themselves for emergencies and have additional resources around the year.
2. Integration of Advanced Technology in all areas of the Healthcare Sector
Technology paved its way into medical systems decades ago. Still, the outbreak of the COVID-19 and imposed lockdowns forced healthcare sectors to develop different ways of delivering care to patients through digital tools. On the other hand, people discovered that they could save their valuable time and contact health practitioners from their homes for mild health issues. The Healthcare sector is expanding with time, and new fields are emerging. Integrating technology in various subfields of the medical industry can ease and streamline healthcare facilities’ functioning. It can further enhance medical practitioners’ productivity and enable them to provide better services to the patients. Indeed, technology integration in healthcare areas such as health informatics, healthcare management, or other health-related departments will enhance functioning.
3. Enhanced Efficiency Even with Limited Resources
Medical workers did not have sufficient resources when the disease blew into a pandemic. They faced difficulties and struggled hard, but many managed to give their best and help patients deal with their health issues. Healthcare practitioners realized that if they plan strategically, they can do much better with limited resources. The medical sector must learn to efficiently utilize healthcare supplies and strive to make the most of its resources. They can devise proper plans and minimize the use of extra supplies. It will help them cut costs and reduce wastages.
4. Expansion in Telehealth
Telehealth encompasses all means of electronic and technical tools that healthcare practitioners use to deliver health-related services. When governments imposed lockdowns and declared hospitals as red zones, people were discouraged from visiting healthcare organizations for mild medical issues. Various medical facility centers introduced different ways of delivering health-related services through technology. The Healthcare sector must work to expand telehealth and improve its functioning. Telehealth expansion can significantly aid healthcare sectors and patients alike and save their money and time. Technological developments keep on bringing new ways. The healthcare sector must integrate advanced technology to provide patients with better health services through telehealth.
5. Evolving Roles of Medical Workers
Many new fields emerge in the medical industry, and healthcare practitioners’ roles continue to evolve. Nurses who learn advanced skills can step into a doctor’s shoes if the need arises and prescribe medicines. Similarly, health informatics professionals can streamline medical organizations’ functioning and take care of other managerial tasks. Many people preferred isolating themselves at home after contracting the virus and availed themselves of the home nurses’ service. The pandemic forced healthcare professionals to perform activities other than their domain. It paves the way for healthcare workers to evolve and develop their roles in the post-COVID-19 era.
6. Speed up the Medical Processes
Some medical reports take days or weeks to reach patients, and that delays their treatment processes. The outbreak of COVID-19 changed many healthcare procedures, and laboratories had to speed up their medical processes. The medical sector must continue to perform efficiently and provide patients with medical test reports and assessment results within less time. Additionally, people generally had to wait for weeks to get an appointment, which often exacerbated their condition. Speeding up medical processes will enable them to receive medical care without waiting. They will regain health in comparatively less time as well. Healthcare organizations can take the lesson forward and ensure rapid processes even when the virus is over to provide people with enhanced healthcare services.
7. Acknowledge the Efforts of the Healthcare Workers
Doctors receive respect from people from all walks of life, but the efforts of other healthcare practitioners often go unnoticed. The pandemic brought other medical professionals to the forefront, and the public recognized their endeavors. For instance, nurses received worthy recognition for their fight against the pandemic. The healthcare sector should learn that acknowledging and appreciating all healthcare practitioners’ efforts will inspire them to give better healthcare services.
The COVID-19 pandemic brought drastic changes in people’s lives and compelled people to rethink their priorities. The government-imposed lockdowns exposed people to a different lifestyle. The shift to work-from-home led them to discover new ways of running business operations. The novel virus affected all sectors, but the medical industry has been the most impacted one. However, the healthcare industry managed to survive and catered to plenty of patients. But the healthcare system still has to learn numerous lessons from the pandemic and enhance its functioning.