By this point, we know that it was the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic we were to fear, more so than the first. Not just because colder weather and extended time indoors mean higher case counts and hospitalizations, but also the deadly combination of mixed public health messages and the fatigue of managing life through a pandemic.
As 2020 comes to an end, here are some of the important healthcare trends that emerged this year, and hot topics we will continue to monitor in the coming months.
Ongoing challenges for employers
As some politicians and officials espouse the merits of physical distancing, companies continue to grapple with motivating and supporting employees in our virtual world. The impact of the pandemic on subsets of people within the workplace—particularly women with children and lower income families without regular access to technology and internet—require astute consideration.
One of the many ripple effects of the pandemic is the increase in mental health issues. The pandemic has expedited a lot of aspects of healthcare, and the need for organizations to focus on creating a strategic and holistic approach towards promoting positive mental health for employees also needs urgent attention.
Significant scientific advances to support the fight
Testing (and rapid testing in particular) will continue to be a hot topic as more tests are approved for sale in Canada, and industries across the country aim to maintain COVID-free workplaces. Layer in the eventual approval, production, and distribution of a vaccine combined with a smart campaign to shatter vaccine hesitancy and we could be rebuilding a post-pandemic world in the latter half of the year.
Long-term changes to how healthcare services are provided
The effects of the pandemic will be felt for a long time to come. Companies that formed health and wellness roles in the thick of the pandemic will see these positions evolve. Virtual healthcare that was enabled and expanded by the creation of temporary billing codes for physicians must be examined through a long-term lens. Canadians will undoubtedly expect the convenience and benefits that come with virtual healthcare to continue. What are the other pandemic silver linings that will help better equip Canada and our healthcare system for the future?
Shifting government priorities
Governments who have been fiscally hard hit will be looking for savings opportunities, particularly within healthcare budgets that are growing across the country. Will we continue to see increased conversations around value-based healthcare decision-making? Will we see a hurried uptake in therapies like biosimilars, a budget-friendly alternative to biologics? One thing is for sure, governments will be looking for innovative ideas as we form our post-pandemic world.
Nancy Dale, vice-president and practice lead, Healthcare – NATIONAL Toronto