2022 was certainly an unforgettable year, full of fresh innovation, inspiration, and ideas. For many, this year marked an ease of Covid-19 restrictions, leading to more social interaction and involvement in the community after an era of pandemic-driven lockdowns.
Overall, this year entailed some remarkable headlines. Here are just a few of 2022’s most important healthcare headlines:
Staffing shortages: amid labor shortages, increasing healthcare demand, and an ever-prevalent transformation in workplace culture, healthcare saw some of the most dire challenges in staffing this year. For many years, pundits have unequivocally agreed that there is a significant physician shortage nationally, which has resulted in not only incredibly long appointment wait times, but has also notably decreased access-to-care on a national scale. Furthermore, for many hospital systems this year, nursing shortages were a significant barrier to effective hospital throughput; after all, even if a hospital has a bed available, a patient cannot be admitted unless there is staff to actively manage that patient. Accordingly, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics projects 194,500 annual openings for registered nurses in the next 10 years, with an annual job growth rate of nearly 9%. In essence, these labor issues and staffing shortages are nowhere close to being resolved.
Healthcare technology: over the last few years, healthcare technology transformation has garnered a lot of attention, as organizations have repeatedly touted the benefits of digital tools and how they can significantly benefit patient care and outcomes. However, with the slowdown in the economy in 2022 and in the technology sector specifically, healthcare innovation has significantly slowed. Take for example Amazon’s decision to shut down its Care platform by the end of 2022. Per Neil Lindsay, Amazon Health Services Senior Vice President, “This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration… although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”
Healthcare investment: investments all around the globe, let alone in healthcare, have slowed down. A large part of the reason is because investment firms and companies are trying to save cash, especially given recession headwinds, increasing costs, and a spiraling economy. In comparison to last year, investment in healthcare innovation has remarakbly decreased, indicating that investors are wary of what the coming years will entail for the market. However, rest assured, this is likely only temporary, as industry titans are still cognizant of the significant problems the healthcare field has and are eager to try and resolve them in better economic conditions.
Redefining care: for many, 2022 has been an opportunity to examine what is most important and what people truly value in their lives. With specific regards to quality of life, as the world re-emerged from a pandemic in 2021, many realized what it meant to live in constant fear everyday, especially those that were particularly vulnerable to the virus, such as aged individuals and those with other medical co-morbidities. With the advent of the Covid vaccines, many communities regained a sense of freedom, and realized a new definition for quality of life.
In terms of healthcare as a whole, this sense of increased quality has never been more important. At a systemic level, organizations are increasingly pushing to transition to a value based care (VBC) model in order to incentivize key stakeholders with clinical outcomes, rather than service quantity (e.g. fee for service).
Similarly, innovators see a large value premium in putting patient convenience first. One of the prime examples of this is the sheer importance that systems are now placing on telehealth and digital health services; as the pandemic illuminated how important it was for some people to stay within their homes, these virtual health services hope to solve that key service gap by providing patients with access to care in the comfort of their own homes. Taking it a step further, the concept of bringing the “hospital to the home” has grown significantly this year, as organizations are increasingly piloting care around the patient rather than the hospital. Indeed, this is a revolutionary way of thinking.
Undoubtedly, 2022 has witnessed a significant range of important developments and cultural changes in the realm of healthcare. The above are just a few of the important headlines, though there are many more that are assuredly impactful for the industry. Time will tell what 2023 will entail for this ever changing and challenging field.