Everybody was happy to put 2020 in their rearview mirror, but the healthcare issues facing America will not magically vanish overnight. If anything, the COVID crisis has taught us how badly reform is needed in several segments.
A Focus on Recovery
The main priority is to vaccinate as many people as possible. There are limits to a rollout, such as limited supply and human error, but states are working towards mass vaccinations as soon as possible. In addition, future testing procedures will be reevaluated to be less invasive and diagnosis turnaround time faster. Societal issues such as herd immunity, safely reopening schools and businesses, and economic repair are contingent upon our united resiliency.
Healthcare Availability and Affordability
One other glaringly obvious fact that came from 2020 was the realization that America’s public health system is vital to our economic success and is greatly influenced by politics. The entire well-being of our nation depends on it. Because of this, a dialog will continue about a public-private collaboration.
Seniors and homebound individuals have started to embrace the concept of remote and digital healthcare, whether they want to or not. For many, 2020 made it a matter of necessity over preference since quarantine laws were in effect. It also shone a spotlight on the fact that America’s antiquated technology and data systems need a significant overhaul. Our current public health system is based on faxes and manual data entry. With a rapidly-spreading pandemic, it is impossible to control the spread without the aid of machine learning and artificial intelligence. Not only is data prone to human error, but the ability to track current and suspected cases or predict trends is impossible. Syndromic surveillance is going to be a big part of 2021. Health department staff, assisted by AI data acquisition and creation of statistical alerts, will be able to monitor disease indicators in real-time or near real-time to detect outbreaks of the disease earlier than would otherwise be possible,
The rapid spread of COVID also resulted in a hastily-formed remote solution for healthcare workers and their patients. This involved many staff members turning to personal electronic devices that lacked sufficient security levels and left many vital systems open for attack. In addition, for people who already felt behind in the tech age, this sudden dependency on remote healthcare broadened the gap.