The COVID-19 pandemic almost destroyed the financial plans of businesses, mainly healthcare organizations, in 2020. However, with the explosion of virtual care and shift in patient behaviors, businesses hope that 2021 will have it all back on track.
Although sudden, the change allowed healthcare organizations and employers to fine-tune their existing approaches and improvise their spectrum on the virtual platforms.
PWC Health Research Institute had issued a new report giving insights into the emerging healthcare industry issues in 2021.
PwC Health Research Survey Report
PwC surveyed almost 2500 executives and personnel from the healthcare system, health-related companies, insurance and policy experts, and other related representatives. The research examined the possible issues to be faced by the healthcare industry in 2021. It also focused on how the healthcare industry can reshape its portfolios to recover from the pandemic-induced financial issues and support a stable growth plan for long-term resilience.
The report focused on the blooming of virtual care, the predicted investment challenges, the latest advances in clinical trials, and more. The 2 most crucial spheres of interest were –
- Virtual care
- Telehealth services
Transition To Virtual Care
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted American healthcare immensely, and people are looking forward to advanced healthcare services to serve the patients. One of the biggest explosive innovations is the virtual care surge. As it was a new step for physicians, medical practitioners, caregivers, therapists, and even patients, they all struggled at some point in time with this new approach.
According to the report, most virtual visits took place on non-traditional digital platforms like mobile phones. With virtual care becoming the next normal trend in the healthcare industry, healthcare providers and other health systems are looking for effective ways to deliver the best quality healthcare services to the patients on the virtual platforms. Additionally, they are also working out ways for patients to pay for their virtual visits.
Differing Telehealth Services
Employee benefits trends show that virtual care for mental health services will be high in 2021. Another PwC report revealed that 58% of the health systems agree that virtual mental health visits will continue in 2021. Additionally, 56% of family medicine services, 44% of pediatrics, and 46% of obstetrics and gynecology services agreed that they would continue to offer virtual visits in 2021. However, they were a few obstacles to adopting the telehealth option. For example, 52% of the health system executives agreed that the telehealth services invited significant reimbursement challenges.
According to the PwC report, telemedicine services are bound to grow in the mental health arena. While in 2020, only 43% of health care systems offered telehealth services for mental health issues, the number rose to 58% in 2021.
Although mental health services found traction with the telemedicine options, the primary care services have mixed reviews. Despite 92% of health systems have offered telemedicine services for primary care, a meager 17% only found it useful to manage their ongoing care. However, 68% agreed that it was useful to manage patient follow-ups.
On the whole, there was a mixed response from the survey respondents about virtual care and digital health solutions.
Furthermore, racial disparities cropped up as another potent issue. According to the PwC research, 51% of the white patients in America did not have any issues with their telehealth visits. On the other hand, the number dropped to 34% of Black patients and 35% of Latin respondents. Similarly, patients also faced technical issues with the telehealth visits, and it was linked racially. While 27% of White patients seemed to face issues, 28% of black patients and 24% of Latinx patients also faced similar technical issues.
In addition to these issues, there were other concerns regarding follow-up care uncertainty. While some patients found it difficult being on video during their virtual health visits, they were other health concerns that could not be addressed virtually.
Despite the issues caused by the pandemic, 2020 has also brought along many opportunities to grow on the digital rush caused by the pandemic. In short, virtual health care services are prevailing with pros and cons. While healthcare providers and other health systems are figuring out the best ways to deliver quality healthcare services through digital platforms.