Among the many consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve seen a loss of confidence around healthcare. As the Edelman Trust Barometer Special Report: Trust and Health found earlier this year, many people have lost confidence in their healthcare system to handle a major health crisis. Not only that, but they have also lost confidence in their own ability to find answers to healthcare questions and make informed decisions for themselves and their families.
It would seem, therefore, that in addition to dealing with a backlog of diagnosis and treatment of non-COVID patients and resurgence of cases of the virus itself, healthcare systems are also going to have to work on regaining the trust of patients. But how? Not only did the pandemic damage healthcare systems, but it also emptied government coffers making investment difficult.
Fortunately, as well as presenting huge challenges, the pandemic is also responsible for accelerating progress in some areas of healthcare. Many people are now used to consulting a doctor remotely and to administering diagnostic tests in their own home. Technology has progressed too, from handheld ultrasound devices to sophisticated health monitoring capabilities on smartphones. Interactive health kiosks are increasingly present in workplaces and public facilities to enable people to conduct their own health screening.
Perhaps this heralds the dawn of a new era in healthcare: one in which the delivery of care, rather than only taking place in designated facilities, can happen pretty much anywhere. Is “hybrid healthcare” going to take hold in the same way that hybrid working has? Will we see a situation where some care is delivered in specialist settings while other, more routine care is delivered at home, at the office or in the shopping centre?
If so, this might be one way in which healthcare systems can demonstrate readiness for the future, showcasing the use of new technologies and other innovations and offering a more flexible approach to care. And that could in turn, help bolster patient satisfaction and rebuild trust.
Carolyn Paul is Global Managing Director and EMEA Health Chair, Edelman.