New Markets, New Patient Expectations
Irving Stackpole & Elizabeth Ziemba
Before the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, healthcare innovations were being driven by underlying dynamics of change: the need for greater efficiencies, profit opportunities and a gradual shift toward consumerism. When EU providers shut down elective, non-urgent healthcare procedures to focus on COVID-19 treatment, these dynamics were interrupted. At the same time, necessity is the mother of invention, and telehealth has exploded as an existing solution, which has found swift and irrevocable adoption. Consumers had wanted telehealth long before the pandemic, but intermediaries and providers had baulked. Now, there is no turning back time.
This program will explore:
- The ways demand/supply in healthcare is shifting
- Emerging priorities in healthcare supply
- Pandemic as obstacle or accelerator to innovation
- The effects of the pandemic on consumers’ (patients’) expectations
- Adapting to the emerging consumer / patient trends
- New approaches to address patients’ new expectations
The basic dynamics in healthcare markets and patient expectations may have been temporarily or permanently changed. We need to drive the discussion.
Demand in healthcare has generally been considered constant. A certain proportion of each population will need treatments or surgeries. The global response to the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted this old inherited model. Elective, non-urgent surgical procedures were stopped, and simultaneously, there was a dramatic reduction in the number of hospital emergency department visits. Some of the demand for nonurgent elective treatments or surgeries will gradually return as local economies incrementally reopen, however some proportion of these markets will never be the same. A major reason for this is the pivot toward virtual healthcare or telehealth & telemedicine. The permanent change from “all healthcare is local” to dual streams of virtual and in-person supply is the most dramatic market innovation in decades.
New Patient Expectations
The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the perceptions about access to healthcare, possibly forever. Certain behaviors already have changed. People who need healthcare services, whether for major or minor treatments, have chosen to forego those services out of fear of contracting SARS-CoV-2. Many patients have experienced telemedicine for the first time. Concern, compassion, and appreciation for healthcare workers are at an all-time high as their visibility in treating patients has cost many of them their health and even their lives. Self-isolation is teaching all of us many lessons related to consumerism as well as the environment. The experience of the pandemic has changed patient expectations. What are those new expectations and how will healthcare providers adapt to bring patients back?