Trends in healthcare are constantly changing to adapt to hospital, physician, and patient needs. The Covid-19 pandemic necessitated new ways of delivering patient care that reduced the likelihood of infecting clinicians and patients. Meanwhile, technological advances enabled the development of more collaborative approaches by physician teams to treat patients. However, no change happened so quickly and dramatically as the shift toward providing online “telehealth” services to patients (per a medical research article in 2020). The following describes three rising healthcare trends since the onset of Covid-19, and three healthcare system “norms” that are fading away. 

Three rising trends in healthcare delivery to patients 

  • Increased adoption of team-based approaches to providing patient care: 

The high cost of treating chronic disorders such as heart disease, Diabetes Type 2, and asthma has led public health leaders to promote healthcare provider team-based approaches to care. Likewise, the health complications commonly found in hospitalized Covid-19 patients after their discharge required more collaborative efforts.  

For example, kidney damage was found in at least 30% of people hospitalized due to Covid-19. Without long-term physician care, daily medications, and dietary changes, people with kidney damage can progress to the life-threatening disorder of kidney failure. By enabling collaboration between primary care doctors (PCPs), specialist physicians, mental health therapists, and nutritionists, a post-hospitalization care approach for recovered Covid-19 patients with kidney damage could be quickly developed and implemented. 

Videoconferencing software linking networks of healthcare providers boosted the capacity for healthcare teams to collaborate more efficiently. This continues to enable increased collaborative efforts, and is a rapidly-growing nationwide trend.  

  • Providing “telehealth” patient care as opposed to requiring a doctor’s office visit:

The use of videoconferencing software and digital solutions has exploded since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic. Besides enabling people diagnosed with Covid-19 to interact with their healthcare providers without infecting them, telehealth visits also enabled outpatient clinicians to provide help each day to more patients. This was because there was no need to clean and re-stock an exam room for each new patient, since the interactions were conducted online. In addition, it eliminated the necessity for patients to travel to the healthcare provider’s office to receive care. 

Elderly patients tend to have an especially difficult time in finding a way to travel to a healthcare provider’s office. Many people aged 70 and older either no longer drive or are unable to use public transportation to reach their healthcare provider’s office. This is especially problematic for seniors without any adult children living close to them, or who have physical disabilities that limit walking.  

The huge advantage of “virtual” office visits is that it enables people to receive care from their clinicians without leaving home. Consequently, this has led to an expansion in the capacity of “virtual” technological solutions to deliver healthcare to patients. Not only have healthcare providers and patients embraced “virtual” visits since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, mental health therapists are hopping on the bandwagon in large numbers. 

  • The use of robotic devices to perform surgery:

While the first robotic device used to perform surgery was FDA-approved in the early 2000s, advances in robotic device mechanisms have led to increased usage of robotic devices to perform surgeries. This is especially the case for surgeries requiring finger dexterity beyond that normally possible for the human hand. Outside of use by the military in field hospitals, FDA-approved surgical robotic devices are most often utilized in hospital operating rooms to assist in performing minimally-invasive (laparoscopic) procedures. For example, in 2021, the Hominis Surgical System was approved by the FDA to perform transvaginal hysterectomies. 

The use of robotic devices to perform surgical procedures has enabled surgeries to occur with just the presence of a surgeon and one or two assistants, rather than numerous Operating Room (OR) staff members. Therefore, the daily scheduling of more minimally-invasive surgeries per day by hospitals is possible. Due to its revenue-boosting potential, use of robotic devices to perform surgeries is an increasing trend that we imagine will only continue to rise. 

Three falling (and disappearing) trends 

  • Short waiting times in hospital Emergency Rooms (ERs): 

Healthcare staff “burn-out” is contributing to fewer personnel to assist patients who walk into a hospital Emergency Room (ER), rather than arriving in an ambulance. However, another reason waiting times are lengthening is that an increasing number of community hospitals are closing, with more people seeking ER care at the remaining hospitals.  

  • Manual healthcare billing systems: 

Billing systems used in physician group practices that send out invoices manually are going the way of the dinosaur. In their place, technologically-driven systems, that can quickly identify correct billing codes and spot billing errors, are becoming a standard practice.  

  • Rapidly finding an available bed in a nursing home when needed: 

Since 2016, more than 500 nursing homes have closed, and many more plan to do so. A chief reason specified by nursing home owners is that they simply cannot afford to stay in business. Meanwhile – as a consequence of the Covid-19 pandemic – it has also been harder for nursing homes to find and hire new nursing aides willing to work for low pay while risking a Covid-19 infection. Since a minimum staff-to-patient ratio is required by state governments, nursing homes cannot accept more patients than they have nursing aides on staff to care for them. Therefore, finding an available nursing home bed to take your elderly family member who can no longer safely live at home is taking far longer than in the past. 

These are just some of the changed trends currently occurring across our healthcare system. Advances in Artificial Intelligence (AI) medical research, the development of mRNA cancer treatments, and the continuing shift toward value-based payments by both Medicare and private insurers are other trends that are gathering steam. 

Among its numerous capabilities, the Ōmcare Home Health Hub® can enable you to engage in virtual healthcare visits as well as appointment/medication reminders and medication dispensing allowing home to be the site of care.