It has been over a year since the first coronavirus case in the US, and the crisis has gone on to stretch the country’s healthcare system to its limits. Several hospitals and healthcare institutions are facing cash shortages after having to cancel non-urgent, and elective medical procedures that they relied on heavily for income. Even with a $175 billion bailout from the government, several healthcare organizations have filed for bankruptcy. However, as vaccinations roll out and with the country gradually managing the coronavirus contagion, things are beginning to look up for the healthcare sector. This is due in large part to the number of new initiatives and improvements that the industry has embraced:
The number of virtual visits through telemedicine has skyrocketed throughout the pandemic. Telemedicine allows people to receive care at home, as they would from an actual visit to a clinic, particularly for minor and routine appointments. It helps reduce the risk of contracting COVID-19 and also lets physicians see more patients in a given amount of time — even patients who are geographically farther away.
The use of telemedicine also includes virtual meetings between medical practitioners. Care teams are able to align with each other and create treatment plans through online conferences. In a previous post, we talked about how this medium can be an effective alternative to face-to-face meetings, given that it’s facilitated well and that the best practices – like having frequent breaks, inviting engaging speakers, and having breakout forums – are observed.
Remote Healthcare Education
Due to America’s aging population requiring more care, coupled with the pandemic, there’s an ever-looming shortage of healthcare professionals. Specifically, there’s a current nursing shortage that’s expected to continue to rise to 16% over the next decade. This has increased the demand for both basic and advanced nursing education.
Fortunately, thanks to the increasing popularity of remote learning, nurses in the field can train for in-demand specializations by taking online RN to BSN programs that enhance their skills. These programs can prepare nurses for leadership positions, helping them advance their careers. Degrees from these online programs are just as effective and valid as traditional degrees because they follow certified curriculums taught by accredited instructors. Additionally, remote learning offers flexibility for medical practitioners as the courses are taught completely online – this lets them go on working as they study. For nursing undergraduates, they’ll still be required to fulfill clinical hours to earn their nursing license. This process is made more accessible and convenient, with theory classes taught online. With remote healthcare education producing more graduates, there is hope that the shortage of healthcare professionals will no longer be a problem in the near future.
The use of data in healthcare isn’t a groundbreaking initiative, but the new application of data in predictive analytics could be. As a natural progression, data gathering has led medical professionals to develop precision medicine. It’s an approach that takes genetic information, environmental factors, and individuals’ lifestyles into consideration. This medical strategy allows doctors and researchers to target specific illnesses through personalized and customized treatment, keeping families and entire communities healthier.
These personalized treatments include improved diagnosis and prevention of a wide range of diseases using data from several groups of people who have common genetic information and susceptibilities. The long-term vision for precision medicine is the enhanced ability for medical teams to predict which diseases are common for specific people, and, in turn, which treatments work best for them. This could help reduce hospital admissions and skew clinical management more towards predictive and preventative care.
Instead of buckling under the pressure of high demands and successive waves of coronavirus cases, the American healthcare system has been effective in finding new ways to deliver care. With the use of technology and data analytics, the healthcare system is now more future-ready and capable of handling more crises.
Vivian Anderson is a health writer and mental health advocate. She spends her days reading up on the latest industry trends. When she’s not working on a new piece, you’ll find her jogging in the local park with her poodle, Suzy.