Operators of healthcare institutions may feel they’ve been in a constant state of assessing and adapting since the beginning of COVID-19. Some of these changes are expected to stick around post-pandemic, as vulnerabilities, innovation and cooperation could be leading to a future with better care.
Virtual care services
When lockdowns occurred, a shift towards virtual care services immediately became necessary. Some healthcare experts are expecting this measure to gain a foothold, as those in remote communities stand to benefit from virtual and telehealth models for both consultations and the potential for remote health monitoring, digital pharmacies and e-commerce opportunities. Per Health Catalyst,
Health systems must start preparing to evaluate its long-distance care, both in terms of patient satisfaction and outcomes, looking particularly for quality gaps and ways to be more effective. Evaluation of virtual care must involve understanding the level of complexity telehealth and other remote options can deliver as well as alternatives for care that can’t occur virtually (e.g., hospice care).
Changes to the supply chain
At the onset of the pandemic, challenges in securing personal protective equipment (PPE), like masks, gowns and hand sanitizer, quickly became apparent. Securing PPE from global sources immediately became a source of panic and frustration for governments across the globe. Quality control remains a concern. The vulnerability of the supply chain has led to the need for domestically-produced solutions.
Hospitals give way to health campuses
Raphael Radowski, CEO of healthcare company Medically Home, predicts a future with large health campuses integrating the many facets of care into one community. Per his article in Scientific American,
Large hospitals will give way to health campuses, carrying the hospitals’ brands, that provide an integrated community experience of complex care, assisted living, employee housing, health clubs, restaurants, and retail. Following the model already underway in medical facilities across the country, the assets of these campuses will be owned by real estate investors and operated by experts in each field. Healthcare and wellness will melt into one another in this environment.
Nursing homes and long-term care
With deaths in long-term care facilities accounting for over 40 percent of all COVID-19 deaths, care homes are now in the spotlight. Strict protocols are in place to keep the virus at bay, but long-term commitments from providers and governments will be required to prevent repetition of this tragedy in the future. This may lead those members of the aging population looking for more home-based, in person support. Health Affairs offers some insight into the future of facilities in its article, Building The Long-Term Care System Of The Future: Will The COVID-19 Nursing Home Tragedies Lead To Real Reform?
Replace aging and outdated facilities, particularly in low-income communities. Moving forward, nursing homes and other institutional settings should be smaller, with single-occupancy rooms and low staff-to-resident ratios. Environments that offer a more homelike setting can help with infection control and can lead to better health outcomes for residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. These efforts can be accelerated by strengthening federal and state standards on nursing home size, room occupancy, and minimum staffing ratios.