The Future of Healthcare: Post-Pandemic Insights

Natalia Odrinskaya
June 17, 2024

Transforming Healthcare: Personalized, Accessible, and Digital

Embracing Change: From 2020 to Today

Back in 2020, the healthcare industry was at a pivotal crossroads. Faced with an aging population, evolving care models, infrastructure advancements, and workforce shortages, the need for digital transformation was clear. Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly accelerating change across all sectors, but none more so than healthcare, which had to adapt while fighting the virus on the frontlines.

Fast forward to today, the World Health Organization may have declared COVID-19 no longer a global health emergency, but the pandemic’s impact persists. Challenges addressed in 2020 remain and have been joined by new ones, including economic pressures and the lasting aftereffects of the pandemic.

McKinsey predicts that healthcare costs will soar to $600 billion by 2027, but there's a silver lining. A $1 trillion opportunity exists in healthcare improvement initiatives that could make the industry more accessible, personalized, and equitable. Seizing this opportunity means continuing the digital transformation catalyzed by the pandemic and embracing the consumer-first approach that revolutionized retail.

The Rise of Retail Clinics and At-Home Healthcare

The pandemic underscored the importance of accessible healthcare, leading to a boom in retail clinics and at-home healthcare services. Retail health clinics, which grew out of necessity during the pandemic, have become a fixture, with the global market expected to surpass $8 billion by 2027. In the US, their usage spiked by 51% from 2020 to 2021, driven by COVID testing and vaccinations.

These clinics revolutionized healthcare delivery, making it more accessible and convenient. According to CVS’s 2022 Healthcare Insights Study, 92% of consumers prioritize convenience in healthcare, and 41% value walk-in appointments. This shift mirrors the consumer expectations shaped by retail experiences.

Technology has been pivotal in meeting these expectations. Virtual visits and telehealth services, initially a necessity, are now standard. CVS found that 59% of consumers consider virtual services important, and 93% of providers believe these options make patients more likely to schedule appointments. These services exemplify the accessibility and convenience that modern consumers demand from healthcare.

Mental Health: A Digital Approach

The pandemic has exacerbated the global mental health crisis. Digital solutions have emerged as crucial tools for making mental health care more accessible and personalized. For example, Turning Point launched an online counseling service during the pandemic, directly reaching consumers. Another initiative, Beyond Blue’s Beyond Now app, offers personalized safety plans for those experiencing suicidal thoughts, allowing users to customize their plans with personal media.

Digital mental health solutions have proven their worth. Deloitte reports that 89% of mental health consultations are now virtual, and these models often match or surpass the efficacy of in-person sessions. Thoughtful digital interventions can significantly enhance the mental healthcare experience.

Remote Care: The Hospital at Home Model

As the global population ages, the demand for chronic condition management and ongoing treatment will strain healthcare systems. Remote care models, such as the Hospital at Home (HaH), offer solutions. Initially piloted by Johns Hopkins University, HaH has reduced care costs by 19-30%, improved clinical outcomes, and enhanced patient experiences through 24/7 remote monitoring and telemedicine appointments.

Beyond geriatric care, remote models can benefit patients of all ages with chronic conditions or those recovering from surgeries. Digital platforms like EO’s clinical cannabis-based app demonstrate how personalized, remote care can be effective and convenient.

Digital Transformation in Hospitals

The pandemic drove hospitals to adopt digital solutions rapidly. However, further digital transformation within hospitals is essential. In the US, outdated systems have made hospitals vulnerable to ransomware attacks, which have doubled since 2016. By adopting unified electronic systems, as seen in Estonia, hospitals can enhance data security and efficiency.

The National Institutes for Health’s Bridge2AI project highlights AI's potential in healthcare. By creating comprehensive biomedical data sets, AI can enable precision medicine, diagnosing patients before symptoms arise. Johns Hopkins Medicine’s AI algorithm for early sepsis detection exemplifies how AI can save lives and reduce costs.

The Future: Digital Healthcare

To navigate future challenges, the healthcare industry must embrace digital transformation across in-hospital care, remote care, and medical research. By adopting a consumer-first approach and leveraging technology, healthcare can become more accessible, efficient, and personalized.

Software as a Medical Device (SaMD) is gaining recognition, with international efforts to regulate and certify such technologies ensuring they meet high standards. As these innovations unfold, we can anticipate a more effective and equitable era of healthcare.

At Scalability, we have been at the forefront of this transformation for our clients. We have implemented numerous telehealth clinics, enhancing the accessibility and convenience of healthcare services. Additionally, our innovative use of digital platforms, such as the Apple Vision Pro clinic management system, has significantly reduced costs and broadened the horizons of healthcare delivery.

By continuing to embrace digital solutions and pioneering advancements, we help our clients save costs and provide broader, more inclusive healthcare options. The future of healthcare looks brighter and more inclusive as we forge ahead on this digital path.