Home Tech Updates The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery

The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery

by Helen J. Wolf
0 comment

The COVID-19 pandemic has revolutionized the healthcare industry by forcing healthcare providers to innovate in countless ways to overcome staff shortages, social distancing requirements, and lockdowns. With COVID-19 becoming endemic rather than a pandemic, healthcare must continue to transform. While this imminent threat may subside, the industry will face many ongoing challenges. Preparing for these challenges requires healthcare organizations to use productivity-enhancing technology that is fit for purpose.

COVID-19 was the catalyst for the much-anticipated change in healthcare. Technology provided a solution for driving productivity gains with a shrinking workforce and unlocking data chained to legacy systems and geographic locations. To address the ongoing challenges surrounding COVID-19 and other potential events, healthcare organizations must now revise their communication and data management technology sooner rather than later.

The impact of COVID-19 on healthcare environments and care delivery

Some ongoing challenges healthcare organizations face include staff shortages, with the federal government forecasting a deficit of approximately 85,000 nurses by 2025 and 123,000 nurses by 2030. Add to that an aging population and increased workload as delayed treatments are rescheduled, and it becomes clear that caregivers can quickly become overwhelmed. Of the workforce left over, burnout is an ongoing problem as healthcare providers less in light of ever-increasing compliance requirements.

The industry also faces limited federal budget support for a tired industry. Organizations will have to rely on increases in labor productivity rather than workforce expansion to meet demand growth.

Meanwhile, broken and fragmented communications with faxes, memos, emails, voicemails, phone calls, and multiple forms completed online and offline leave information in isolated silos. Finding the right data is critical in an industry where delays in finding the right information can mean human costs.

During the pandemic, lockdowns and stay-at-home orders created new barriers to access to healthcare, leading to changes in the delivery and use of services worldwide. With limited access to traditional healthcare facilities, the model had to change; ‘care everywhere’ had to become a reality. With this, the adoption and acceptance of digitization are finally getting underway.

COVID-19 brought healthcare into the digital age. Rather than being treated in a traditional medical setting, community care was no longer a luxury; it became necessary. Care provision had to be reconsidered as hospitals became less attractive due to access issues and contamination risks.

Technological innovation is the only way to support the new leaner workforce and deliver information to help high-quality patient care inside and outside the hospital.

Digitizing information and creating streamlined workflows accessible across geographies and medical disciplines delivers efficient and effective work processes that can provide patient care where needed.

When clinicians and other health professionals have access to a single point of truth for patient data, they can deliver higher-quality patient care. Real-time access to rosters, schedules, staff locations, and high-quality workflow design at the backend can help streamline processes. This reduces the frustration of manually collecting disparate, outdated data and subjecting patients to repeated questions about their healthcare histories and ailments.

The ongoing transformation of healthcare is vital to the industry’s continued health. There is an increased demand for more patient-centered and personalized care and a constant need for virtual care. This opens up opportunities to use new and emerging technologies to support innovative methods of healthcare delivery.

For example, artificial intelligence plays a role in research, rehabilitation, and physiotherapy and supports people with long-term conditions. It can also be used to administer surgery alone or to assist a human surgeon.

Meanwhile, wearable, hands-free smart badges have accelerated staff response times and improved patient care at two Sydney hospitals.

As organizations and individuals embrace 5G connectivity for the time being – which will dramatically increase network speeds and make new technologies more easily accessible – there is no doubt that the interconnectivity of the Internet of Things will also have a major impact on the speed and security of data transfers as integrating smart healthcare devices into smart city infrastructure.

COVID-19 has forced the healthcare sector to innovate out of a critical situation. Embracing technology to deliver a safe, secure, efficient, and effective healthcare ecosystem will ease the pressure on a shrinking workforce and improve patient care. While the immediate threat of the pandemic may have decreased, healthcare organizations must maintain the momentum to address the ongoing and varied challenges effectively.

You may also like