How will COVID-19 change the working lives of doctors and nurses?
Philips

How will COVID-19 change the working lives of doctors and nurses?

Royal Philips, a global leader in health technology recently released the Philips Future Health Index (FHI) 2021 report titled “A Resilient Future: Healthcare leaders look beyond the crisis”. The study is based on proprietary research across 14 countries, representing the largest global survey of its kind to analyze the current and future priorities of healthcare leaders worldwide.

Feedback from healthcare leaders reveal a new vision for the future of healthcare. With a focus on patient-centred healthcare enabled by smart technology, their vision is shaped by a fresh emphasis on partnerships, sustainability and new models of care delivery, both inside and outside the hospital.

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Over a year and a half ago, we all witnessed surreal images of societies that seem to have come to a standstill with empty streets, quiet cities, deserted airports and closed bars and restaurants due to the onset of COVID-19. Global healthcare systems experienced unprecedented strain, and frontline healthcare workers faced greater pressures than ever before. 

At the same time, alongside the headlines about the spread of coronavirus, there have also been many stories of immense bravery and self-sacrifice. It’s humbling to think that there are literally millions of stories like these around the world right now – doctors and nurses working around the clock, pushing themselves to the limit and putting their lives on the line, often with limited resources. You are the true heroes.

In the Philippines, between movement restrictions, hospital capacity issues, and the spread of strains such as the Delta variant, the country continues to deal with challenges posed by COVID-19, with medical professionals at the forefront. However, like in many countries across the world, there are pockets of positivity to be pointed out. With over 77 million doses administered, vaccinations are ramping up across the country, and the average number of daily cases has considerably lowered coming from a resurgence experienced in August.

While these local trends are certainly encouraging, on a larger front, a shift needs to happen to transform healthcare systems and delivery – not only to address the pandemic, but also to create a future for healthcare that is sustainable, adaptable, and resilient. 

The demands of working in healthcare have long been immense

Anyone who works in healthcare knows that clinicians across the world were struggling even before the pandemic. Last year’s FHI report examined the expectations and experiences of young healthcare professionals aged under 40 and how they can be empowered to meet the demands of tomorrow’s healthcare. The results showed that nearly three out of four younger healthcare professionals from the 15 countries surveyed experience work-related stress regularly.

On top of countless personal tragedies and societal disruption that it has already caused, another possible and concerning outcome of COVID-19 could be that even more clinicians will feel frustrated by the limitations of overstretched health systems and leave the profession for good.

How can we make the lives of healthcare professionals easier? 

So how can we learn from this pandemic? How can we empower healthcare professionals more, so that they stay in the profession, take better care of their patients, and pursue their dreams? What would change look like in a post-COVID-19 world?

According to the 2021 FHI report, many healthcare leaders are prioritizing investment in technologies such as telehealth to expand where care is delivered and extends the capacity of care provided. Many healthcare facilities also increased their adoption of cloud computing technology to better facilitate high-traffic tasks. 

Another priority investment for healthcare leaders is Artificial Intelligence (AI) to optimize efficiency and anticipate doing so even more three years from now. The report also finds that AI technologies that predict clinical outcomes are likely to play a key role in enabling healthcare systems to deliver value-based care. 

While healthcare leaders look to prioritize AI, they are also convinced of the value of strategic partnerships and collaborations, often with non-traditional players such as technology companies. As healthcare leaders look beyond the pandemic, they see building these partnerships as an important way to continue to foster innovation. The immense value of collaboration is seen in analyst predictions that, by 2025, 40% of hyperconnected innovation will be driven by large-scale social, health, and environmental goals and delivered via ecosystems that include industry players, academia and government.

Together, this three-step approach to digital transformation lays the foundations to ease the pressures on healthcare workers and shores up healthcare capabilities across the world.

The need for radical change in healthcare

This COVID-19 pandemic has shown us how much healthcare is in need of not just tweaking, but radical change. The pressure on global health systems, providers and staff has already been increasing to unsustainable levels. However, it also illustrates how much can be achieved in times of crisis.

Healthcare reform, with a totally different approach to how healthcare is organized, delivered and distributed, will be paramount in a post-COVID-19 era which hopefully will arrive soon. It’s the only way we can deliver on the Quadruple Aim of healthcare: better health outcomes, improved patient and staff experience, and lower cost of care.

For details on the Future Heath methodology and to access the Future Health Index 2021 report in its entirety, visit: https://www.philips.com.sg/a-w/about/news/future-health-index.html

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