2020 was as unpredictable as they come. And let’s face it: the upcoming year could hold equal uncertainty. But despite our hesitation to make predictions, there’s no doubt that some clear trends have emerged in the healthcare sphere. As we step tentatively into 2021, we can expect the following healthcare industry trends to unfold.
Trend #1: The Continued Surge in Remote Care
There’s no doubt that COVID-19 has opened up widespread access to telemedicine. Forrester predicts “virtual care visits will soar to more than 1 billion this year, including 900 million visits related to COVID-19” (Source). In 2021, we can expect to see “minor and routine appointments” held online. This convenient alternative to in-person visits will allow healthcare professionals to meet the needs of more patients than ever before. Virtual care will help reduce the spread of not only COVID-19 but other common contagious viruses as well (Source).
Trend #2: The Expansion of Public Health Initiatives
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from COVID-19, it’s that public health is vital to a thriving economy and the populace at large. In 2021, by “establishing public-private partnerships and working collaboratively,” solutions will arise to “meet the collective needs of our communities” (Source). Whereas we may have made public health a “back burner” issue in years past, 2021 will undoubtedly call attention to overall wellness through initiatives in both the public and private sectors.
Trend #3: An Increased Reliance on AI
In 2020, the overwhelming influx of COVID-19 forced the healthcare industry to reevaluate its methods, especially when it came to data tracking. To get an “increasingly accurate picture of where and when intervention may be needed,” healthcare facilities will need to depend more heavily on data found as we share “our own devices and online activities.” This will also benefit the healthcare industry’s bottom line. By relying on AI, hospitals, clinics, and other medical facilities will be able to “forecast where resources can be used most efficiently” (Source).
While no one can predict what 2021 will hold, we can safely assume that COVID-19 will continue to shape the landscape of healthcare for months, if not years, to come. Fortunately, despite the struggles inherent in a global pandemic, the healthcare industry will continue to change and adapt, in many cases for the better.