How COVID-19 Changed Healthcare
Written By: Natalia Loomis
Chaos, peace, grief, and gratitude are some terms that come to mind when reflecting on the COVID -19 pandemic. No matter your personal experience during this time, there is no denying that it was life changing. As we emerge the end of the pandemic, it is apparent that somethings in our society will not be returning to “normal”. What does this mean for the Healthcare industry?
As we return to “normal” life, I anticipate many pharmacies care services to continue as they did during the pandemic. First, digital health services such as telehealth and remote monitoring services (especially for minor injuries and stable maintenance medications) seem to be increasingly popular “post-COVID”. Not only do younger generations appear more comfortable and willing to engage digitally, but according to managed healthcare executive, nationally, consumers from all ages seem more comfortable. Optum had an 86% Increase in first time users taking advantage of digital transfer of chronic medications from retail to home delivery. Additionally, telehealth for patients with mental health, substance use disorders and other complex, chronic health conditions has increased to 9 out of 10 patients. As technology advances, virtual engagement, and empowerment tools will also advance to improve the users’ comfort level.
As patients stopped going to physician’s offices during the pandemic, a decrease in provider – administered drug utilization occurred. Home infusion, and more home health services has also gained popularity and the popularity keeps increasing due to flexibility and convenience. For individuals at higher risk, these services are safer, less disruptive and more cost effective compared to certain provider administered services. Moreover, at home services decrease the risk of hospital and inpatient acquired infections.
Focusing on mental health has been at the forefront of the pandemic and will continue to gain traction. OptumRx analytics show that in March the number of prescriptions for anti-anxiety medications increased 15%; for antidepressants, 14%; and for sedative hypnotics, 5%. Virtual support services will continue to provide services to those who need it. OptumRx has leveraged its Genoa Healthcare footprint to provide support through telepsychiatry, our Optum Emotional Health line, virtual visits and complimentary, on-demand emotional support via the Sanvello mobile app.
Overall, the direction of healthcare will progress to more personalized patient care addressing wellness of patients, not just sickness to promote a more inclusive health system.