Advances in technology and shifting demographics in society are just 2 of the many factors that drive changes in the global healthcare industry. As the 21st century rolls on, new and important trends are emerging in the way we run our healthcare institutions, all of which are designed to improve outcomes and make hospitals more effective as centres of healing and wellness.
Trend 1: Digitization
One of the first big trends that has actually been going on for some time now is the increasing use of digital technologies to manage patient information, follow-ups, scheduling, and more. Digital health practice management software is effective in helping to boost efficiency, making the patient experience more bearable, and overall speeding up the infamously slow admin side of running hospitals.
Digital systems help hospital workers as well as patients, and are especially good at stopping things from falling through the cracks. By automating reminders to patients about appointments, less wasted time occurs in the schedules, and doctors and administrators keep records in better order.
Trend 2: Cutting Costs
Overall, there is growing discontent over the amount of wasted money and resources hospitals are generating. The move away, for instance, from washable nursing and surgical gowns to single-use ones made primarily of oil-based plastic products is one of the best examples of this. What was previously done under the guise of safety and hygiene is now being increasingly rejected by people who want to see their hospital resources used well.
After all, in many countries hospitals are paid for with taxpayer money, so waste is essentially throwing money away that the people who use these hospitals have invested into them. Above-mentioned digital systems are one part of reducing financial waste, but new trends to find eco-friendly approaches where everyday hospital equipment is concerned are increasingly prevalent as we go into 2022.
Trend 3: Use of Data
Another aspect of the digitization of hospital administration is the huge amount of excellent data that will be generated by every hospital. Data-driven healthcare solutions are an emerging trend that see hospitals trying to better understand the needs of their community and thus better using resources. For instance, if a local population is mostly residents of 55+ years of age, it’s obvious that healthcare needs would be different to an area where there are mostly younger people aged 18 to 34. Data can help understand the demographics, what they need most, and what they don’t need.
Data doesn’t directly replace expert opinion, but it complements it and lends more concrete evidence to the said expert opinion. It will help hospital administrators and health officials better use what they have.
Trend 4: Diversifying Supply Chains
The COVID-19 pandemic taught some harsh lessons to public healthcare in Australia and many countries around the world. In the pre-pandemic days, everyone was happy to outsource production of PPE and basic medical equipment to a single country like China which had the capacity to serve as the world’s workshop. The pandemic proved, however, that over-reliance on a single source for basic equipment creates absolutely unacceptable shortages that bottleneck even the most basic medical practices.
The medical sector, along with many other industries and businesses, are looking for ways to safeguard against such outcomes emerging again in the near or distant future.
Trend 5: Telehealth
This one is arguably another direct result of the pandemic. The increasing adoption of telehealth and virtual healthcare solutions, such as doctor’s consultations via online video conferencing software, is a new approach that could help doctors see more patients each day, and also make it so at-risk patients don’t put themselves at risk or pose a risk to others by going to a public doctor’s office where they might infect others or be infected by something else.