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How is COVID-19 shaping the healthcare sector?

With the coronavirus growing across different nations, many healthcare workers are near breaking point, with limited medical equipment and time for rest. The crisis has been pushing the limits of the healthcare systems in many countries as thousands of people died and an unprecedented, large-scale quarantine was implemented.

In today’s Pacific Prime article, we will shed light on how the epidemic is impacting the healthcare sector across the world.

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Health Research Insights Report

According to a recent report from PwC’s Health Research Insights (HRI), healthcare consumers are now more interested in engaging with the medical industry both via telehealth and by sharing their data for research.

However, they are also more concerned about their own expenses and thus engage less with chronic care management guidelines and medication adherence.

Data speaks for itself

Before the pandemic, patients were more hesitant to share health data with third-party organizations; but now they are willing to engage more deeply with the medical industry. 58% of the respondents said they were ‘somewhat willing’ to participate in clinical trial research with a pharmaceutical company, which is a crucial and positive signal for the industry as it strives to invent vaccines and test new medicines for the virus.

Moreover, the use of data can facilitate the medical teams to create new alert systems and methods to classify COVID-19 patients, and help doctors and nurses compare clinical data in the decision-making process. 

Telemedicine

Telemedicine has been proven useful during the COVID-19 pandemic as it allows medical practitioners to diagnose and treat isolated patients while saving time and money. According to the survey result, 88% of the patients who used telehealth for the first time said they would use it again.

In the long run, this can help reduce absenteeism since employees will no longer need to take leaves to visit doctors. Employers have good reason to consider offering telehealth benefits. Read our articles on “Efficient ways to manage international employees during the COVID-19 outbreak” and “Employer’s duty and obligation to protect their employees” for more information.

Finances are now a bigger problem

While the epidemic has led to some positive changes in the healthcare sector, some patients are withdrawing from the healthcare industry in the face of their own financial problems. This comes as no surprise when the coronavirus has cost millions of people their jobs as travel halted and social distancing measures have been implemented. 

Those without stable sources of income or with reduced wages can only resort to forego medical care. 32% of respondents said they had already or were planning on cutting down healthcare access to save money, and 78% said they would skip a wellness visit, chronic care management maintenance, or an elective lab test to cut costs.

The problem of patient financial responsibility also has impacts on insurers, which are having a hard time developing collection strategies in the era of high-deductible health plans and other cost-sharing arrangements.

Medication adherence changed

Furthermore, more than half of the respondents were concerned about whether they can get the medications they need, while others had made or planned to make changes to their medication adherence, take over-the-counter medications, or try to stretch prescription, if not skipping medicine entirely.

Since medication adherence is significant for chronic disease patients, these trends are alarming as those without medications are at higher risks of developing acute health conditions, which would eventually land them in the emergency room. Not only is it more expensive, but patients are also more likely to get infected with bacteria or viruses like COVID-19 there.

Resources allocation

The novel coronavirus crisis has been straining the healthcare systems and overwhelming the capacity of hospitals worldwide. Since the onset of the outbreak, healthcare organizations have been attempting to allocate resources appropriately so that operations will not be affected even when demand starts to exceed existing resources.

Hospital managers are also advised to “develop a process for decision making, anticipate what resources may be in shortage, and involve clinical staff in developing strategies to address a broad range of impact.”

After COVID-19

COVID-19 is a big lesson for both individuals and governments around the world. In the future, employers and healthcare organizations will need to strengthen how they engage with healthcare consumers. 

For employers, newer forms of benefits have emerged since the outbreak, such as work from home options, health advice, and extended sick leave. Moving to the future, employers should change how they care for employee health by, for example, emphasizing more on employee health and wellness and ensuring office safety.

For healthcare organizations, they need to work on areas such as patient outreach and loyalty because the research shows that only 14 % of consumers turned to their hospitals or health systems for information about COVID-19. In other words, the healthcare sector should increase patient loyalty by maintaining effective communications with patients even when they are not directly using the system.

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Contact Pacific Prime for more information

While the novel coronavirus has exposed our vulnerabilities, it has also led to positive silent transformation within our healthcare systems. It is hoped that with concerted efforts we can rebuild a more dependable and transparent healthcare system that involves all of us. And an indispensable part of such a system is a health insurance plan.

Whether you’re looking for insurance plans such as international health insurance, family health insurance, or corporate insurance, Pacific Prime is here to help. Leveraging our 20 years of experience and a rich portfolio of international school clienteles, Pacific Prime can help you select, manage, and renew your insurance policy according to your school’s insurance needs. 

Contact us today for impartial insurance advice, an obligation-free quote, and plan comparison.

Anthony Chan

Content Creator at Pacific Prime
Anthony Chan is a content writer at Pacific Prime. He’s responsible for writing, translating, and editing articles, guides, infographics, leaflets, as well as other resources for Pacific Prime and Kwiksure.

When he’s not working, he’s usually on the hunt for great restaurants, playing badminton, and writing screenplays.
Anthony Chan