The COVID-19 pandemic has caused unprecedented disruption to the status quo around the world. We’re sheltering in place, practicing social distancing, and working and schooling from home where possible, among other changes.
The impact on U.S. healthcare has been especially noteworthy. In the collective effort to quickly curb the spread of the virus, healthcare organizations seem to be accelerating towards what we describe as the Smart Health Market — a consumer-centered, technology-enabled, distributed care network focused on prevention and wellness.
While the situation is rapidly evolving and no one can predict the outcome, one thing is for sure: U.S. healthcare will never be the same. Trending changes likely to become part of the “new normal” include:
- The barriers to accessing telemedicine are eroding, keeping high-risk patients out of hospitals and physician offices for routine care.
- Physicians are reconsidering how many of their appointments really need to be taken in person, and in some cases that might be better for them and the patient.
Home Care Medicine
- Home care and hospital-at-home programs, too long an afterthought in healthcare, are mobilizing to support hospital overflow and keep patients at home when appropriate.
- Convenient, at-home digital health tools are having their moment.
- Non-traditional players like Amazon, Google, and a slew of app makers are seeking creative ways to make testing more accessible and empower healthcare consumers with more options.
And as healthcare organizations rally in response, healthcare consumers are taking an active role as well. Misinformation is a real problem, but nevertheless consumers are proactively educating themselves about their risk and where they can seek care, more so than ever.
Our take: There’s no silver lining when lives and livelihoods are at stake, but the race to plug gaps in the healthcare system could prove to benefit healthcare consumers — and the forward-thinkers in the healthcare ecosystem — in the long term.