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The Major Issues Facing Healthcare In 2021

The Major Issues Facing Healthcare In 2021

The healthcare industry has six big hurdles ahead in 2021:

  • Rightsizing after the telehealth explosion.
  • Accommodating to changing clinical trials.
  • Promoting digital relationships that ease physician burdens.
  • Forecasting for an unpredictable 2021.
  • Reshaping health responsibilities for growth.
  • Building a flexible and responsive supply chain for long-term health.

This is as per a new annual report from research and consulting giant PwC labeled “Top health industry issues of 2021: Will a shocked system emerge stronger?”

For this report, PwC’s Health Research Institute surveyed 2,511 American customers, 128 health plan administrators, 153 healthcare provider organization executives, and 124 pharmaceutical and life sciences officials in August and September 2020. “While in 2020 many healthcare organizations saw their financial plans obliterated, patient behaviors radically shift and virtual care explode, in 2021 they will work to put the system back together,” stated PwC researchers. “Not to how it always was – but in a way that reimagines healthcare delivery, reconnects broken pathways and makes a giant leap toward a consumer-centric healthcare system.”

As per the report, nearly overnight, as volumes dropped precipitously, the deadly pandemic pushed patients, doctors, pharmaceutical companies, and payers hastily onto virtual platforms and other digital technologies that many had previously approached with skepticism. That sudden experiment allowed for valuable penetrations that healthcare organizations in 2021 could apply to fine-tune where they should land on the spectrum of virtual and in-person – in systems that make the most sense for care delivery, patient practice, reimbursement, and clinical research.

According to the new report, the perspicacity can also help healthcare organizations operate vaccine distribution and the ebbs and flows of patient volumes owing to COVID-19 in the year ahead. The pandemic generated uneven practices for millions of Americans as physicians, therapists, hospitals, nurse practitioners, and other caregivers – all coming to telehealth with different levels of experience themselves – tried suddenly to adhere patients where they were, said PwC researchers.

Some virtual visits occurred on nontraditional mobile platforms, on personal phones, via texts, and through messaging platforms more often used for bestowing family photos or Internet memes, it explained. “In the year ahead, the business will work to determine which virtual visits make the most knowledge, and where and how they should take place,” according to the report. “Some practices, such as mental health, may find stronger footing via virtual visits. Healthcare provider executives surveyed by HRI most frequently cited mental health and psychiatry (58%), family medicine (56%), obstetrics and gynecology (46%), and pediatrics (44%) as the specialties in which their organizations will offer virtual visits in 2021.”

Payers may grapple with how to reimburse and, in some cases, provide virtual care. Pharmaceutical and life sciences organizations may have to decide where they can and should plug in, HRI predicts. Providers may proceed to improve the patient experience and be careful not to create increased disparities in the health system through lack of technology access, it continued.

“Happy clinicians are the best ambassadors for virtual care,” the report declared. “Sixty-nine percent of consumers said it was important to have a recommendation from their primary care doctor before using an alternative care setting such as virtual visits. Maintaining clinician satisfaction is key for virtual and in-person visits. Health systems should carefully develop virtual care physician routines, such as making a standard patient check-in and checkout process, as with an in-person visit, and setting up the visit for the doctor.”

“In 2021, whoever captures the consumer first is expected to have more influence in guiding and navigating users through other parts of the health ecosystem,” researchers suggested. “The competitive landscape may transcend geographies. For academic medical centers, offering free or low-cost telehealth consultations may be a way to attract new patients willing to travel for specialized procedures.”

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