2021 was a complex, challenging and uncertain year for healthcare. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to dominate healthcare systems’ attention and resources, creating downstream pressures such as widespread burnout and staffing shortages.
But if the last year made anything crystal clear, it’s the need for continued technological transformation, which impacts nearly all processes and practices across the care continuum.
The digital healthcare revolution has begun but will gain further traction in 2022, driven by new business models, emerging technologies and the ever-growing need for data. According to a recent survey by Deloitte, most health systems are no more than midway through their digital transformation journey.
As the CEO and co-founder of a healthcare technology platform, I believe this accelerated digital disruption will enable highly coordinated care, improve care quality and help reduce costs. With that in mind, here are my top predictions for 2022:
A Sweeping Digital Transformation
We are on the brink of a sweeping digital transformation of healthcare. By the end of 2022, I predict every healthcare transaction will happen digitally, fostering deeper integrations and coordination.
Patients are moving across the care continuum faster, and providers have a shorter window of time to deliver care right. For this reason, providers in each setting are finding it critical to have a complete, digitized record of care. (Disclosure: My company can provide digitized solutions.) In closing the information gap, these providers can see the full view of the patient, track referral patterns and ultimately improve how patients transition between care settings.
Care providers have an opportunity to be the change-makers in this ecosystem. And while there isn’t a large material cost, the roadblock is burnout. With limited staff, clinicians are trying to manage patient care, pushing more efficient information sharing to the backburner. The truth is that sometimes industries need to be pushed toward innovation, and in the case of healthcare, while many believe government agencies shouldn’t dictate how to deliver care, I think it’s likely that they will legislate data transparency.
It might take some time, but I believe we can expect significant progression toward this goal by the end of the year, particularly in the skilled nursing sector. Those organizations that aren’t digitally connected by 2022 could be at a competitive disadvantage.
The Widespread Shift To Integrated Care Models
Staffing is the most pressing challenge facing many industries, and healthcare is no exception. Even before the pandemic, studies estimated staffing shortages of almost 140,000 physicians by 2030. But the continuity of the caregiver is just as important as the continuity of care, and this is a sign that models need to evolve.
An integrated care model eliminates silos between settings — skilled, home, senior living — and enhances community collaboration to improve cost, service and quality. With integrated care, caregivers have greater control over health outcomes, which can increase staff engagement, enjoyment and retention.
In 2022, I think we’ll see the rise of the congregated housing and multi-residential model. For example, senior living settings might grow into full campuses to meet multiple care needs. These settings will be able to provide more innovative services, attract talent and scale quickly.
In addition to adopting integrated care models, organizations will likely turn to technology to create efficiencies and ease the burden on staff to mitigate burnout and turnover. The use of digitized, unified and standardized data may help clinicians improve quality of care delivery, and greater efficiencies may result in time-savings so clinicians can spend more time with patients.
The Rise Of PAC Networks And Reduction Of Independents
Organizations that establish a coordinated network across the post-acute care (PAC) continuum will likely find success operating under value-based payment models, optimizing patient outcomes and driving savings.
I’ve found that in an integrated system, providers gain more negotiating power through sheer patient volume and, subsequently, more data. This market position can and will empower networks to prove their value, gain capital, keep expenses down and maximize profit to sustain themselves. Independents often experience less patient volume and therefore carry less bargaining power, which could result in the reduction of these “singles” and/or heighten mergers and acquisitions activity.
How Healthcare Leaders Can Move Forward
Across industries, leaders need to help employees connect to the larger mission. As a CEO, I understand the reality of remote work and the disconnect employees can feel to a company’s mission.
In 2022, leaders in all sectors need to consider how to translate core values in a hybrid work environment, revitalize their culture, set employees up for growth and success, and enforce work-life balance to retain talent.
Digital transformation has the power to impact all aspects of healthcare, from enabling easier access to care to improving quality and decreasing costs. It can also help improve providers’ operational and financial efficiencies. In 2022, I predict we’ll see organizations build on the digital momentum from 2021 with the goal of creating true connectivity across the care ecosystem.