According to WHO data, over 7.5 million people have been infected across the globe by Coronavirus. In India, cases came to rise from the month of March and reached as high as 2.9 lakhs individuals within three months. This count has led to the thinking that will it ever come to an end or will the pandemic continue to be a scourge for the economy and social world.
Currently, it is a hard time for all sectors to revive and pick up the path of recovery on an economic level. Every field is affected in some way or the other and this includes the healthcare industry as well. The traditional health or medical sector has been considered as every steadfast, recession-free and holding a secure future over the years but things now seem to indicate otherwise.
However, it is hard to conclude whether the healthcare industry is affected by Covid-19 in a negative or positive way! While one would estimate that the stress on the health sector including health professionals has been high off late during this crisis, there are speculations on the other hand that much improvements and resilience of the health sector may lead to a resurgence in the sector in the aftermath of Covid-19.
Here are a few impactful salient features of COVID-19 on healthcare that have been highlighted since the onset of a virus.
Opportunities for new technologies and new regulatory pathways
To date, analysis reveals that new research, pathways, and an enormous expansion in healthcare opportunities are predicted in the aftermath of Covid-19. There have been short-term changes due to COVID-19; however, in the long run, a considerable impact is predicted for the medical industry’s repurposing. With the supply of appropriate new age pharmaceuticals, diagnostic equipment, ventilators, masks, PPE kits, and several other sophisticated technology, the raised standards can contribute to better treatment, management and lead to an upsurge in the submarkets for health. Since healthcare is global, the current pandemic has attracted more focus on clinical, financial, and several other operational aspects connected with the field.
Co-working of Private and Government sectors
Private healthcare providers along with public facilities have come together to fight the pandemic. The private sector has risen to the occasion by offering the government all the support it needs, whether it is testing support, preparing isolation beds for COVID-19 positive patients, or deploying equipment and staff in identified nodal hospitals. There was initial reluctance and resistance but these have been now overcome to ensure both taken on the pandemic together. However, we now see both public and private hospitals and staff dealing with investment in resources, losses in the current scenario and still striving to offer the best patient care to the corona positive patient along with managing regular patients.
Growth in Digital Health
Virtual care, telemedicine, AI in healthcare, clinical trials, remote diagnostics, XaaS business models, and patient engagement are now emerging as the new normal. With the pandemic spreading and increase in the number of cases, virtual care is now being considered the mainstream of the healthcare economy.
More demand for management healthcare workers
With the sudden increase in requirement of health workforce, there has been a huge demand for qualified and skilled healthcare professionals. In healthcare management, whether one is a doctor, lab technician, nurse, or pharmacist , there is a constant requirement of medical experts in these critical times. Hence, Covid-19 has exposed gaps in the health system, exposed deficiencies in the system and at the same time is providing the much needed impetus to pull up the socks and invest in future opportunities. Many medical equipment organizations are looking at manufacturing of medical devices and expanding their horizon of work while hospitals at the front end are investing in improving their staff resources and exhibit better dedication, work, and care for the patients.
A temporary shortage of finance
Hospitals just as other establishments are witnessing a dip in their revenue right now and this trend is foreseen to continue for at least 4-6 months at the present time. There is a severe impact on cash flows, and it is likely to continue until 2021. However, in the long term, healthcare will look to expand and grow steadily and will depend also on the government’s fiscal stimulus package. However, awareness of the need for healthcare has increased and the importance of having a strong health system with qualified and skilled healthcare management professionals is one of the positive impacts of COVID-19.
There have been many negative aspects of the pandemic too and the nature of spread and intensity has affected economies and exposed the lack of preparedness and lack of medical resources to treat the positive cases in this time. Another aspect has been the acute mental stress felt by people due to the lockdown apart from job insecurity and loss of livelihood. However, as we imagine a day when Covid-19 would be a thing of the past, we must look ahead with hope and the positive impacts of the pandemic such as keeping the family at home and spending more time with loved ones is something that we can treasure at this moment!