Needless to say, things have changed a lot in the world of healthcare since 2019. Here are some of the most positive ways COVID-19 has made a splash in regard to how we heal.
1. It cast a light on health inequity
Not everybody can afford great health insurance or the life-saving pharmaceuticals they may need. The same goes for the types of healthcare facilities and specialists that one might have in their own neighborhood, and traveling for healthcare isn’t always an option.
After a year of COVID-19 data, we were already becoming much more aware of the many health disparities plaguing our country and the world as a whole. Sharp distinctions in case rates, hospitalizations, and COVID-19 deaths between demographics made this reality shockingly clear, more so than ever before.
Hispanic people, for example, make up 18.5% of the population in the United States. In terms of COVID case counts, they accounted for 24.3% of the total cases reported as of February 15, 2022, indicating that a disparity between this demographic and the majority is all too real. Other minorities echo this same unfortunate reality.
Beyond race, we’ve also seen that poverty, sex, city of residence, and even things like age all had an impact on one’s COVID-19 prognosis statistically. There is no one single problem that can be put to blame—everything from accessibility, proximity, finances, and overburdened healthcare facilities all played their part.
Healthcare post-COVID is an intersectional issue. Now, we have more data than ever to treat this multi-faceted problem with the care and nuance it demands.
2. It catalyzed the telemedicine movement
When you’re not allowed to leave your home, how can a person receive life-saving medical care? Something had to give, and it did.
This pertains to more than just those infected with COVID-19. Telehealth is faster, easier, and much more convenient than a traditional office experience in many cases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, telehealth visits increased to 52.7 million, from 2019’s count of approximately 840,000.
While a telemedicine provider can’t accomplish everything an in-person visit might be able to, for small things, it’s an enormously applicable solution.
Physicians are able to serve more patients, infectious patients are able to receive care without putting others at risk, and both patrons and providers can utilize this bridge from anywhere in the world, all on a much more flexible schedule.
No driving, no waiting rooms, and fewer admins involved in each transaction all set the stage for a much more efficient process for all parties involved.
3. It changed the way we think about healthcare
Healthcare and pharmaceuticals are, at the end of the day, an amalgamation of industries. Money talks, and the most vulnerable among us are often the ones left behind.
Social solidarity, the cooperation of all people across demographics and circumstances, is only the beginning of the change in attitude outlined here—international charity in the form of vaccine donations and other gifts in the form of money, resources, PPE, food, and more also became more common, especially on the part of the US.
When the foundation of civilization begins to crumble beneath our feet, priorities shift. Suddenly, we started to see all of these incredibly passionate, action-oriented public health experts speaking to the greater good, not toward personal profit or corporate gains.
COVID-19 was a wake-up call that could not be ignored. Now, our public health system is renewed with a fresh sense of empathy. Every olive branch extended is another step forward toward a better future for everybody.
COVID-19 and the future of healthcare around the world
COVID-19 brought healthcare home with us. It got us thinking more about risks as small as leaving the house when you don’t really need to.
Retrospect and hindsight are 20/20, which affords us an expanded perspective on what it takes to survive as a race—not just until tomorrow or next year, but in a truly sustainable context. We can never know what’s ahead; all we can do is prepare for it.