How Can Healthcare Providers Provide Optimal Care in the Future?

Nov 12, 2020


Despite the immense knowledge within the healthcare sector, rapid medical developments and the incredibly advanced treatments our healthcare system has to offer, COVID-19 has once again proven the unpredictability of mother nature and the need for continuously improving on already high-quality care and research.

New restrictions are being implemented or considered around the world as a second wave of COVID-19 cases emerges while we head into flu season.

The coronavirus has forced us to live a new reality which has impacted our personal lives and created a new playing field for many industries – with a major impact on the healthcare sector. Although we are still in the midst of this global crisis and awaiting a successful vaccine, we can reflect on what we have learned so far and apply those learnings as we move forward.

The need for flexibility
COVID-19 hit the global healthcare industry quicker than anyone could have expected. There were few crisis plans previously in place to guide us through this pandemic. As infection and mortality rates increased rapidly, the need for additional patient capacity and staff skyrocketed. Hospitals faced difficulties scaling or switching equipment types to meet the urgent demands. Consequently, non-emergency and elective procedures were postponed, leaving suffering patients to wait longer for treatments. Globally, the industry faced scenarios that were previously unimaginable for developed countries with a mature and innovative healthcare infrastructure in place.

The need for flexibility became glaringly apparent. Healthcare facilities needed to quickly scale up or down the treatments they were offering. Hospitals needed to urgently acquire additional beds, staff and space. This need also ran counter to the pre-COVID trend of reducing inpatient capacity commensurate with expanding outpatient services. Governments helped with some of the unbudgeted expenses, while financing solutions provided flexibility by allowing the immediate acquisition of assets without capital constraints.

Healthcare Providers

Digitalization as part of your daily routine
In addition to flexibility, a sustainable future-proof healthcare model requires rethinking the current infrastructure and supply chain and embracing digitalization.

Lucien Engelen, Edge Fellow at the Deloitte Center for the Edge, stated: “The global healthcare sector is facing unprecedented challenges due to the outbreak of the worldwide pandemic. It is precisely in this crisis situation that digital tools such as videoconferencing, remote monitoring and data analysis can make a valuable contribution. The coronavirus is causing a shift.”

So far, throughout the pandemic, video conferencing and telemedicine have enabled the continuity of care. Doctors and healthcare professionals can safely provide remote support and maintain contact with many patients virtually without the need for in-person visits where no physical screening is needed. Due to the increase in telemedicine availability, in-person visits to the doctor and hospital have decreased, therefore also reducing possible transmission rates.

Although in-person appointments will continue to be indispensable between healthcare providers and patients, going forward virtual connectivity can improve efficiency, effectiveness and convenience and will continue to rapidly grow in importance. In fact, the market for telehealth is projected to grow seven-fold by 2025 according to Frost & Sullivan.

The future of optimal care requires embracing change and leveraging innovation. For example, innovations in at-home diagnostic equipment can enhance the ability of providers to provide more virtual care. For instance:

  • Wearables, e.g. smartphones and watches that provide real-time data;
  • Breath tests measuring lung capacity and providing real-time data;
  • Distance monitoring of medicine usage through chips, so doctors can anticipate intervention when needed

In addition to distance monitoring, the above innovations ultimately contribute to better population health, providing the ability to suggest personalized preventative measures, benefitting patients’ health and providing less burden on the healthcare system.

Healthcare Provider and Patient

The added value of robotics
Robotics can increase the efficiency of tasks for healthcare professionals by performing both routine and critical activities. Robotics reduce the risk of human error and can offer less invasive procedures, thus reducing recovery time spent in the hospital, offering additional cost savings and a better patient experience.

As the need for disinfection has grown rapidly during the last few months, there is also a role for robotics to play. During a pandemic when the need for disinfection is at an all-time high, this can be a daunting task for humans.

A recent Forbes article stated: “In the battle against world pandemic a rapidly expanding brigade of robots is answering an urgent call of duty: surface disinfection.”

Mobile robots can be deployed to sanitize areas, safeguard people and speed up the disinfecting processes. Forbes notes that COVID-19 has even helped to change some of the negative perception of robots. The pandemic has illustrated their ability to assist and protect people – not replace them.

Digital acceleration and robotics are fundamental drivers to providing optimal care in the future. However, implementing digital solutions and acquiring robotics can be challenging; especially when budgets are under pressure and the focus remains on the immediate healthcare needs of the community. Financial flexibility can help drive success and can be accomplished through adopting new business and finance models, making disruptive change possible. While it may not happen overnight, there are questions for healthcare providers to consider that can help facilitate change:

  • How efficiently are our medical devices being used today?
  • Do we need to own and maintain all the medical equipment and technology in our facilities? Or is our ability to use it more important?
  • Which (new) devices and technology will enable us to provide the highest quality care?
  • Who takes care of resource management?
  • How are IT systems being managed?

By addressing these questions, providers can start to gain a better understanding of the current state of their equipment, how efficiently it is being used, and how they might pivot their operating and financial models to achieve greater flexibility – and ultimately a path to an even higher standard of care and patient experience.

Curious to learn more on how DLL's financial solutions can support your healthcare business? Please contact us to explore your options.