By Omri Shor, CEO, Medisafe.
2020 was a year none of us could have predicted or prepared for. For the healthcare industry, 2020 may well be remembered as an “annus horribilis” as Queen Elizabeth II once coined. Sadly, we are closing out the year with record number of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, even as a vaccine begins to make its way across the country.
While this year tested every aspect of normalcy, in the midst of such massive challenges, we also discovered glimmers of hope within the healthcare industry. From new tech advancements, to rapid medication production, to recognition of medical staff, there were some positive moments amidst the challenges of 2020:
Healthcare takes main stage – As COVID-19 began to take its toll across the globe, physicians, nurses, clinicians, and medical staff everywhere stepped up to the challenge and delivered care for the thousands who became sick with the virus. In cities across the country, nightly cheers showed our appreciation for healthcare workers, who are fighting to keep us alive and fighting against the virus. While the pandemic continues, we have discovered a renewed gratitude for healthcare workers and the lengths they go to protect our health.
Digital Health Goes Mainstream – COVID-19 disrupted traditional healthcare services as we once knew it. Providers suspended non-emergent visits and care, leading people to explore and discover new ways of living and working amid a lockdown, and digital health tools saw an increase in usage. With daily life upended, we took to using our Fitbits, Apple Watches, and digital drug companions to manage health on our own. During 2020, digital health tools saw an increase in use of nearly 50%. And with increased connectivity, more advancement in health monitoring and outputs, and the improved use alongside smartphones, digital health looks to support patient engagement into 2021.
Staying Together, Staying Apart – Zoom has become a verb (and “you’re muted” is perhaps the quote of the year) in 2020 as social distancing and home isolation forced new ways for us to stay together while staying apart. This new video connectivity extended to aspects of healthcare as well, as patients used telemedicine (many for the first time) to stay connected to their healthcare providers. CMS even granted wide-ranging use of telemedicine for healthcare services, from behavioral health to primary care to advanced specialties. A survey of patients found that 75% were pleased with the experience and would likely continue using it in the future. While its use in healthcare isn’t new, 2020 brought telemedicine to the masses with new uses for the future.
Vaccine Production Acceleration – Most impactful, in 2020 we saw the power of science with the accelerated production of a COVID-19 vaccine. Advances in technology, science, medicine, and expertise helped to usher in a new vaccine in less than a year’s time and distribute to the masses. Programs such as these can often take years, with stops-and-starts, but with legislative support and immense funding, a vaccine is now on its way. While the vaccine will take time to be distributed, it represents the best of science and healthcare, providing renewed hope for a better 2021.
As we bid farewell to 2020, it’s unlikely to be a year remembered with fondness or even one of positive memories. However, there were some major accomplishments that helped soften the blow of such an unexpected year and create positive new trends that will lead us into
2021 with new opportunity and hopefully a better year than the last. May we learn from the lessons of the past and use these new insights and achievements to create a brighter future for all.