The rear end of 2019 and the whole of 2020 brought about a world-changing pandemic that quickly spread across most of the countries in the world. This changed not only the sanitary lifestyles of people, but it overhauled workplace, school environments, and governmental policies as well. As the year ended optimistically, with vaccines coming out of their clinical trial phases, projections of what is going to happen in the following year contain both optimistic and grim assumptions.
Although new strains of coronavirus threaten the resurfacing of lockdowns in some parts of the globe, what the entire world, and especially the healthcare industry and the movers of the economy would have as a defense is experience. It seems to be a consensus amongst predictions that the experience and knowledge gathered from 2020 would pave the way for a more seamless method of handling COVID-19. Better and new treatments, more effective response, herd immunities, seem to be within society’s grasp.
Just early January, one of the riskiest counties in Florida began to distribute vaccines from Naples. This is good news given that the state was famous for its surmounting cases of COVID-19, especially in light of the controversial policy set out to only recommend but not mandate the wearing of protective masks. Along with an effective system of medical waste disposal in Naples, Florida; the city, as well as the entire state may experience a dwindling number of infected cases and deaths.
It is not only the healthcare industry that will likely change in the following year. With an influx of research at disposal, the complimentary industry of healthcare facilities is bound to experience more growth in the following years. From 2021-2025, it is expected that the medical waste disposal market would reach a steady growth as key players such as healthcare facilities and other related industries continue to adopt new policies involving medical waste management.
And as one may have assumed, these policies would be catered as an answer towards key issues that the healthcare industry may face in 2021. What is below is a cohesive list of issues of the industry.
Healthcare Supply Chains
The shortage of healthcare-related supplies from 2020 was lethal. Masks, medical sharps (e.g., injections), ventilators, and other personal protective equipment were in high demand as supplies dwindled with little hope of quick replacement. Furthermore, financially vulnerable sectors of the world struggled to acquire healthcare supplies because of trade tariffs that were attached to the bulk acquisition of healthcare goods. It is likely the international trade organizations that arbitrate these rules could establish ways to maneuver around possible shortages. Furthermore, a more reliable stock of healthcare goods would be expected from manufacturers that have obtained production scale and knowledge of the shift in demand required to inform production.
Healthcare has been on the basket of priorities in many different countries. In the United States, this is especially true. For instance, multiple election campaigns are launched with the promise of better management of the healthcare system. However, the introduction of COVID-19 to society has placed the issue of healthcare at the forefront of priorities. Several adjustments to healthcare policies have been eyed by both the Democratic and Republican parties as per popular demand.
These include a more transparent breakdown of price negotiations between hospitals and consumers. This move is projected to increase competition between hospitals to lower the controversially high price of hospital goods within the U.S. healthcare system. Furthermore, some of these adjustments include protections against surprise bills and high prices of drugs.
Both Medicare and Medicaid are integral to providing health coverage for vulnerable groups in society; namely, the elderly and those that are part of the low-income bracket. Because of mass unemployment as a consequence of long lockdowns and business failures, these health coverage programs budgets that are primarily derived from tax are dwindling. Hence, the government is looking to broaden Medicare’s eligibility and supplemental benefits. Furthermore, it seeks to deploy several mechanisms to increase solvency and ensure that drug prices remain affordable.
In the context of Medicaid, there is currently a push to further enable vulnerable people’s access to healthcare. Currently, the American Congress has passed legislation that mandates Medicaid to shoulder the burden of COVID-19 testing. Higher access to healthcare for these groups will be largely dependent on how the Congress will vote in the upcoming year.
Scope of Practice
Normally, a strict Scope of Practice exists to clearly distinguish boundaries and roles between healthcare professionals. This is significant towards ensuring that every patient that is being administered to is handled appropriately as professionals assigned to them would have the specific set of knowledge, experience, and authorization to treat them.
While it is a critical element to administering a high quality of healthcare, hospitals have found this concept to have worked against efficiency during the spike of COVID-19 cases in 2020. Shortage of physicians proved to be fatal and several healthcare advocates pitched the Scope of Practice for healthcare professionals like nurses, physician assistants, and advanced practices nurses to be expanded to heighten the access to affordable and quality healthcare.
Several states have already waived Scope of Practice restrictions and released an expanded version for each professional’s Scope of Practice.
Because of physical restrictions, the adoption of innovation to cushion the loss of traditional practices in the healthcare environment was implemented. Since then, facilities such as hospitals and healthcare-related segments have integrated electronic health records, mobile health devices, and other types of digitalization in their processes. Because of this, it is likely that these technologies will be further scrutinized as these solutions are being looked at to become long-term solutions that can be used to create more flexible healthcare systems. It is likely that 2021 will see regulations and support for these products.
Despite all of these, of course, it is important for states to tighten the implementation of existing protocols. After all, all efforts to curb the effects of the pandemic is a better type of solution. Ensuring social distancing, vaccination, and proper medical waste disposal is still highly recommended and must persist in the coming year.