When Covid-19 first reared its head, there was very much a sense of ‘getting through’ the pandemic and battening down the hatches while we waited for things to return to normal. As time goes on, however, it’s becoming more and more clear that things will never go back to the way they were. In a world that has been utterly changed, it’s time to find a new normal.
Healthcare is the sector that will be most affected by the fallout from Covid-19 and the lessons learned during this pandemic will shape how and where healthcare services are delivered in the future. One positive outcome of coronavirus is that this sector has proof of its own ability to adapt fast in a crisis, from commissioning new equipment to training staff and repurposing interior spaces to cope with the demand for critical care. At Belroc we’re keeping a close watch on the situation as it unfolds and aiming to be as responsive as possible to the evolving needs of our healthcare clients. Here’s a look at some of the changes that seem inevitable for health providers in a post-coronavirus world.
Greater agility in hospital interiors
A key element of pandemic strategy around the world was the immediate move to increase hospital capacity, specifically critical care and ICU beds, by repurposing spaces within existing interiors. Wards, theatres and even staff changing areas were all commandeered during the preparation phase and transformed into isolation or holding areas for patients with suspected or confirmed Covid-19 infections. At Belroc, we were instrumental in this work thanks to our WatchPod, SpeediBed and InstaSwap products.
Moving forward, hospitals will be closely examining their ability to rapidly scale up as part of their overall pandemic strategy. The development of multipurpose spaces that are equipped to provide superior infection control and dignity for patients at times of peak demand will be of critical importance. The goal will be to have spaces within every hospital that can be swiftly and seamlessly adapted to cater for high dependency patients at very short notice, while functioning as normal wards or rooms at all other times.
Safeguarding planned treatment
The ability of hospitals to repurpose existing interiors for the care of Covid patients was conditional on the suspension or cancellation of many elective and high-risk treatments, including cancer therapy. The long-term effects of these suspensions will not be known for months or even years, but many physicians have warned about potentially large numbers of deaths indirectly related to Covid-19.
These deaths may be regarded as a tragic yet unavoidable impact of an unexpected pandemic, but there will be much less tolerance for facilities that fail to prevent this from happening again in any future pandemic. Possible solutions may include dedicating specific areas, either within hospitals where COVID-19 patients are managed or in dedicated non-COVID-19 facilities, where elective care and high-risk treatments may be delivered safely. These facilities may become a permanent feature of the future healthcare landscape.
A tsunami of demand for information and support characterised the beginning of the first coronavirus peak in many countries. Healthcare settings were forced to quickly adapt their digital services to prevent large numbers of people presenting at doctors’ offices and ERs at a time when physical contact needed to be minimised. This trend is likely to continue into the future with many care settings adopting a ‘digital front door’ model for triaging non-critical patients within the system.
Virtual and AI is also highly likely to be accelerated as a feasible clinical solution in the post-Covid era, with online and phone-based diagnostics at one end of the spectrum and things like virtual ICU (where patients are intubated at home with a nurse in attendance, while critical care specialists monitor their condition remotely) at the other.
Reduced inpatient stays
Discharging patients as soon as they are medically fit is essential within any healthcare system with a limited number of beds and other resources. Post Covid, we are likely to see an even greater onus on getting patients out of hospital settings at an earlier stage in their recovery, in order to minimise the risk of hospital-acquired infection. For those undergoing complex procedures or with high needs, residential homes may play an important role in the ‘step down’ from hospital to ambulatory care.
Revenue growth may be challenged across the sector for a prolonged period of time as part of a wider economic crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic or simply due to decline in all hospital visits and elective procedures related to concerns about transmission of the virus in these settings. Providers will have to manage operations more efficiently to ensure best use of financial and clinical resources and will need to work closely with external partners to ensure value for money as they work towards robust pandemic management strategies for the future.
To discuss how Belroc can support your healthcare facility to deliver first-class care in a post-Covid world, get in touch with one of our consultants.