While COVID-19 drastically altered the way healthcare was practiced in the United States and worldwide in 2020, 2021 has had its own challenges—the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, powerful COVID-19 variants, and the nurse shortage and burnout crisis. So, what’s in store for the healthcare industry in 2022?
On December 9 at 2 PM ET, Carrie Liken, Head of Industry, Healthcare at Yext, and Matt Dickson, Senior Vice President at Stericycle Communication Solutions, are hosting a fireside chat to give their predictions for the trends and challenges of the healthcare industry in 2022. Some of the topics of discussion include health equity, digital health acceleration, gaps in patient access due to COVID-19, and big tech in healthcare.
Here is an overview of a few of the topics that Carrie and Matt will discuss during their fireside chat.
Disparities in healthcare have always existed, but the pandemic has clearly shined a light on health disparities—and even worsened health disparities for some individuals. This has forced healthcare organizations and leaders to focus on health equity.
Health disparities prevent individuals from accessing quality healthcare and create barriers for patients to live a healthy life. For example, these disparities can affect the ability for patients to manage chronic conditions, receive timely treatment, adhere to care plans, and more.
Health systems will need to make health equity a strategic priority in 2022 and take specific actions to address social determinants of health. This is easier said than done as health equity is a complex issue.
But, what are some actions that health systems can take now to start improving health disparities?
Digital Health Transformation
Digital transformation has been on the agenda of healthcare providers for years, yet despite huge progress across the industry, it remained an elusive long-term goal. COVID-19 became the catalyst for change and forced health systems to utilize the latest technology to safely care for patients.
One thing is clear—digital transformation will continue to evolve in healthcare. In fact, according to the Accenture Digital Health Technology Vision 2021 report, 81% of health care executives say the pace of digital transformation for their organization is accelerating, and 93% report that they are innovating with a sense of urgency and call to action this year.
Patients’ growing reliance on digital technologies is reshaping expectations and redefining boundaries across the industry. So, what’s next?
Gaps in Patient Access Due to COVID-19
While we just talked about how the pandemic spurred a digital health transformation, it also created gaps in access for many rural, poor, older, and minority patients. This issue is becoming known as the “digital divide” in healthcare—differential access to personal technology or broadband connectivity that results from historic disparities in economic means or educational attainment.
Take telehealth, for example. During the height of COVID-19, telehealth was utilized more than it had ever been in order to care for patients safely. While telehealth improved access to care while in-person visits were deemed unsafe and now is being utilized by patients for the convenience factor, marginalized patients have not benefitted equally from the expansion of telehealth. If the digital divide is not addressed, it could exacerbate inequities in health and health outcomes in 2022 and beyond.
What can health systems do to narrow the digital divide?
Big Tech in Healthcare
New players have been entering healthcare over the last few years – including big tech companies and big-box retailers, but it now seems to be at a more accelerated pace than ever before. These companies are reshaping how healthcare is offered to patients by combining in-person care, virtual care, at-home care, and care by mail, all of which disrupt the marketplace and add competition for health systems.
These big tech and big-box retailers have several advantages compared to health systems—they’re digital-first, have fewer financial constraints, massive audiences, and trusted brand recognition. While it may seem as though these companies have health systems beat, health systems still have competitive threats against these disruptors, but they’ll need to pivot some of their strategies.
So, what changes do health systems need to make to compete with big tech and big-box retailers and deliver the care that patients expect?
There’s no doubt that the healthcare industry will face a new set of challenges and trends in 2022—and we believe these will be a few of the focused topics for healthcare in the new year. To hear more on these topics, register for our fireside chat with Carrie Liken of Yext and Matt Dickson of Stericycle Communication Solutions. Reminder: if you can’t make it, still register, and we’ll email you the recording after the event.