COVID-19 has already had a huge impact on the economy across the world. Countless industries have been affected in ways that we might never have predicted. Many others have been forced to adapt: to use smarter communication tools to continue offering services where they might otherwise have struggled.
But while the disease has impacted nearly every aspect of our lives, the industry that has predictably taken the biggest hit of all is the healthcare industry. Of course, it has largely fallen to the healthcare industry to deal with the current crisis. That, in turn, means that it has had to adapt to manage the huge strain while facing the same challenges as every other business right now.
How will the healthcare industry look in a post COVID-19 world? Here are five things you can expect to change.
1. More Adaptable Businesses
One thing that every business will take from this experience, is that we cannot rely on things to stay the same. Nor can we predict what form challenges will take.
Businesses can create contingency plans for all manner of outcomes to try and be as resilient against change as possible. But few if any were able to accurately predict COVID-19. And it is for that reason, that we need to be adaptable to any situation.
The companies that are continuing to survive in the current crisis are those that have found ways to offer their services remotely using communication tools. Other companies have adapted to offer services that people might require specifically in the current situation.
Some services have survived by allowing their staff to work from home, which is only possible with ample security and a willingness to change and adapt.
And likewise, healthcare organizations will need to adapt again following COVID-19. Millions of people around the world are currently being forced to miss appointments and health checkups. They are being forced to skip their dental appointments, their skincare, checkups following operations.
When lockdown ends around the world, this will open up the flood gates such that those providers have an unprecedented volume to cope with. And once again, those businesses will only be able to cope where they are able to rely on newer communication tools and CRM software that can enhance their optimization.
In short, those companies that have been able to adapt have been able to continue offering companies. Others have had to adopt new strategies quickly.
And that means that every business that remains in the post COVID-19 world will have those capabilities.
2. Improved Supply
Other than the lack of face-to-face contact, one of the other big challenges that the healthcare industry has been forced to deal with right now, is a limited supply. Countries around the globe are forced to deal with limited protective wear, sanitation products, ventilators, and more. This has exposed weaknesses at every level of the supply chain.
In some cases, there are simply not enough of certain products being produced for the huge demand currently seen. In other cases, the products are out there but they are not being mobilized quickly enough. The logistics industry has likewise taken huge hits which have left it less able to make deliveries of crucial supplies.
Even procurement processes have been called into question. In the UK, a HUGE shipment of protective masks had to be rejected due to a failure to properly assess the product before the order was placed. This left countless healthcare workers with poor supply.
Again, adaptation is occurring quickly. Processes are being streamlined, resources are being poured into different areas. Third parties are stepping in to help; even Elon Musk reportedly made an offer to help provide ventilators where needed.
And once again, these are changes that will last. The hope is that coming out on the other side of this crisis, we will have a more reliable supply of all materials and resources. The days of hand cleansers and medications going missing or running out should hopefully be behind us, as businesses are better able to rely on a sustained influx of the things they need to operate.
3. More Health Conscious Patients
Studies that have looked at other countries post-pandemic have made a number of observations. Generally, these paint a picture of permanent change: those areas that have been forced to deal with lockdown conditions are irrevocably changed, and never quite go back to “normal.”
What does this mean? It means that we might become so used to social distancing that we actually stand further from people in the street. If that sounds absurd, consider that we already observe this behavior in less densely populated areas – the more crowded your hometown, the less “personal space” you feel that you need!
Likewise, we can expect this to have resulted in a big rise in awareness of hygiene in particular. We now know the importance of washing our hands and not touching our faces all too well.
We might even see a better-educated population when it comes to personal health and hygiene. Just as a high profile event like an election can raise interest in politics, so could this event raise awareness and interest for health.
What does that mean? Well, it could mean that fewer infectious diseases spread in general. This could eventually reduce the strain placed on healthcare providers. This could have positive economic consequences in some countries, even.
We may also see a population that has become accustomed to staying home. That could conversely mean fewer appointments with dentists and other healthcare providers. It might also mean that more customers and clients now expect to be seen remotely via communication tools or to get access to remote consultations wherever possible. Again, it is your job to adapt and be flexible to meet this change.
4. Reduced Competition
Unfortunately, the simple truth of the current situation is that it is forcing countless healthcare providers out of business. While those that are able to adapt or absorb costs can continue operating, others have incurred great costs that forced layoffs and ultimately closures. Depending on how long this situation continues, we may see many more dentists, physiotherapists, and more close down.
The result will be that there are fewer businesses offering those services in the latter half of 2020 and the start of 2021. In turn, this could mean that the businesses that remain see a much larger volume of clients. We’ve already seen that this could be the case immediately following lockdown, and if you consider that a town might now have two dentists rather than five, it’s easy to see how this could result in massive demand.
Your success will depend on your ability to cope with that demand. Thus, we should expect to see the use of communication tools, management tools, and more. If you can cope with the increased demand, you might see a sudden increase in business that could ultimately be very positive for your organization. The best we can do in this situation is to give back to the industry by hiring those that lost their jobs as we are able to grow.
For patients, this could be bad news, if it means that the reduced competition results in an increase in costs. Hopefully, this will not prevent those patients from getting the care and attention that they need. Being able to deal efficiently with lots of customers might mean using communication tools to provide more ways for your patients and clients to see you.
5. Greater Focus on Prevention
The other impact that COVID-19 should have on healthcare, is an increased interest in preventing infectious disease.
Following this event, there will be a huge amount of discussion and debriefing to try and see what could have been done better. What will be apparent will be the lack of necessary facilities and supplies, but also the importance of acting early.
We may, therefore, see governments become more cautious, and we might see tighter regulation and hopefully more financial aid for healthcare professionals. This could also coincide along with more research being done into vaccines, treatments, and health in general. We may see charities that work in these capacities receiving more donations, and we might see a spotlight shone on a greater number of different conditions.
We can only hope though that an increased focus on infectious disease does not result in a lack of attention given to other health issues.
As you can see then, the healthcare industry is poised to be changed in countless ways. It is impossible to predict the full extent of these changes or what else might happen. It is also likely that the repercussions will be very different for some organizations versus others, and likewise that they may vary from one region to another.
Again then, the lesson is adaptability. We should learn from this experience to be ready to tackle any situation and to cope with unexpected demands or restrictions. That means better communication tools, better patient management, better CRM systems, and smarter budgeting.