Descartes may have said, “I think, therefore, I am.” But a medical professional may alternatively argue, “I breathe, therefore, I am.”
Health is synonymous to living. Along with food and security, it comprises the basic needs in Maslow’s Hierarchy. The healthcare industry has banked on this necessity, in making the training process more intensive and keeping its services lucrative year after year.
But unlike any other year, 2020 saw a new threat to public health: Covid-19. Likewise, it put the medical industry to the test and disrupted its healthcare system, which was already complex on its own.
But how exactly has Covid-19 changed, and could change, one of America’s most profitable businesses?
Healthcare Sectors Before the Pandemic
Before the pandemic, insurance companies wanted to focus on providing a better life for the public and spare them a few trips to the hospital, and, as a result, lower healthcare costs. The UnitedHealth Group, for instance, provided rent for a homeless man who had more than 200 medical emergencies in Phoenix. But this new strategy was unrealized due to the industry’s shifted attention.
Fortunately for some investors, their projections and interests before the lockdown now reaps them results. Forbes’ Bruce Japsen previously reported that there was a move toward a value-based system, focusing on social determinants of health. Advocating investors put their money in remote treatment and home-based services that proved useful today.
Healthcare sectors During the Pandemic
The novel virus, and its fast contagion rate, left hospitals with no choice but to come up with fast—rather than carefully planned—solutions. Before the release of stricter guidelines, hospitals quickly boarded plastic barriers and sported PPEs to at least prevent contamination.
As seen in the news, the hospitals were packed, and the PPEs were barely holding the fort. You might think that this means a stable or even more profitable income for the medical field. This is not true across the border.
Injured sectors: elective medicine and healthcare agents
An estimated 4.8% decline immediately affected the gross domestic product for 2020’s first quarter. By the middle of the year, the American Hospital Association (AHA) reported at least $323 billion of total losses. Specialists, agents, and small private hospitals took most of the blow.
Elective surgeries that can be scheduled in advance were put on hold. These are not exactly optional as the name implies. They are also important, but they do not involve a medical emergency. The contact restrictions also lowered provider visits and the sales of insurance and equipment agents.
Spotlighted sectors: medicine for the maintenance of life
Before the vaccine, doctors and nurses could only do their best to stop the symptoms. With no guaranteed cure, physicians highlighted the need to at least alleviate the pain.
The field leaders were prompted to finally push through their long-running efforts to promote people-centered health services in April 2020. Tackling “palliative care in the time of COVID-19,” the World Health Organization (WHO) hosted a webinar to improve access to end-of-life treatments for every patient. Through a caregiving approach aimed to optimize quality of life when it can no longer be lengthened, palliative and hospice care are “underpinned by the responsibility of policymakers and medical professionals to uphold the ethical duty of non-abandonment,” according to the WHO.
Aside from pain-mitigating treatments, life support has become some patients’ last hope, a demand that profited the equipment suppliers. Ventilator orders alone raised Philip’s Q3 sales. However, after evidence suggested the overuse of the machines may have actually increased the death rate during the start of the pandemic, it is now unclear whether the demand would continue.
The Aftermath: Projections for Post-pandemic Health Care
The alarming mortality rate left a mark on the legislative budget. The Congress passed HR 133 providing significant healthcare provisions and funding, including $3 billion for the Provider Relief Fund (PRF). Like other professionals, physicians and specialists moved their appointments to the virtual world. Even after the successful vaccine dissemination, telehealth and online consultations may still be here for a while.
By looking back and reviewing its wins and losses, the medical industry, in coordination with the government, can learn to be more “futuristic” and plan for what might come ahead. Successful campaigns and efforts must be further developed, while the failed attempts showed us what could be done differently.