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How COVID-19 Has Inspired Changes in Healthcare


There isn't a person that hasn't been impacted by the pandemic, but what we can do is grow from the challenges we face and share what we've learned along the way.

The past year has definitely presented many challenges. There isn't a person that hasn't been impacted by the pandemic. But what we can do now is grow from the challenges we face and share what we've learned along the way. As our team reflected upon the changes that occurred over the past year we wanted to better understand what practices might remain in place. To that end we conducted a survey of medical professionals. While some of the effects were negative, many other changes are turning out to have been valuable learning opportunities that will positively improve healthcare for the future. Below is a sampling of what we learned.

Continuous Adaptability:

When asked about how they worked through the pandemic, the medical professionals consistently answered that adaptability was a reoccurring response.

  1. 82% of practice operations, during the heights of COVID in 2020, were moderately or significantly impacted by the pandemic.
  2. 63% adopted new efficiencies – such as contactless check-in and check-out, online registration processes and telemedicine appointment options.

As one respondent shared: “Televisits were the biggest boon in the last year. [They] allowed our providers to maintain contact with patients who were unable to come in due to living in retirement homes or other group facilities.” Another surmised: “The precautions made patients feel safer and more willing to come in.”

Unwavering Resilience:

COVID also presented significant challenges that tested clinician’s fortitude. In the early days of the pandemic, lack of adequate and ample PPEs, added daily workloads and staffing shortages were major stressors for clinicians.The added fear and pressure of practitioners having to keep themselves, their patients, and families safe triggered mental health and burn out issues for many in the healthcare industry.

In a separate study conducted by the AMA and Hennepin Healthcare in Minneapolis, it was reported that nearly 50% of clinicians battled burnout and nearly 40% identified as anxious or depressed.

“We’ve learned to expect the unexpected.” With continuous training and technology evolution, there was shared sentiment that: “Patient care is always getting better. We come to work every day prepared to put others first and to juggle any and everything that is thrown at us – mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

Embracing the New Normal:

Approximately 83% of practices reported that new efficiencies adopted because of COVID will remain in place after the pandemic.Nearly 75% of practices are back to most if not all pre-COVID operations and patient volumes as of August 2021. “As the pandemic continues, all of our contactless practices are improving health safety for everyone,” said one respondent.”

Patient-First Mindsets:

COVID has proven to be a catalyst for change in numerous industries. Schools have embraced remote learning, companies have discovered successes of a work-from-home workforce and according to the survey, the healthcare industry may have also become safer. More than 70 percent of those surveyed believed that the standard of safety applied to each patient in the pandemic improved.

Constant Vigilance:

Respondents to the Inteleos survey were also prolific on how the healthcare system can better prepare for the future. Further, there was significant alignment on several of the ideas put forth. The list below captures some of those key take-aways:

  1. Given the current Delta spread worldwide and other possible variants, keep enhanced safety guidelines in place until the pandemic is completely under control.
  2. Keep telemedicine and other digital platforms in place.
  3. Maintain as many contactless procedures as possible.
  4. Support continuous practice, training, and certification in pandemic protocols to assure the highest quality healthcare.
  5. Routinely assess, address, and support practitioners’ mental health wellbeing.
  6. To improve communications, develop preparedness plans that are updated annually to establish well-defined standards, processes, and efficiencies.
  7. Stock adequate amounts of resources and supplies, such as PPE and disinfectants.
  8. Allow ample time to clean between patients.
  9. Continued patient education, such as full-time mask wearing, hand sanitizing, social distancing, and temperature monitoring.
  10. Evaluate what worked well and what did not and be ready to pivot should another situation like this arise.

What we know for sure is that we will continue to deepen our perspective in the months and years to come. We also know that the healthcare community – having been utterly steadfast while on the front lines – is stronger, more committed, and truly innovative when we stand together. While differences exist, the survey respondents proved once again the collective commitment to serving others and exceptional patient care remains at the crux of everything they do.

About the authors:

Tricia Turner, RDMS, RVT, American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography® (ARDMS®) Chair; David Dawson, MD, RPVI, RVT, Alliance for Physician Certification & Advancement™ (APCA™) Chair; and Inteleos – a global non-profit community of more than 158,000 medical professionals united in assuring that patients obtain the highest quality healthcare, recently took the pulse of our community as we begin to look beyond the pandemic to see what outcomes we can carry forward to better ourselves and those we care for.

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