The COVID-19 pandemic is expected to change the way hospitals operate and promote growth in a number of areas, including virtual care.

How will the healthcare industry be different in a post-pandemic world?

April 20, 2020
by John R. Fischer, Senior Reporter
Despite the toll COVID-19 has had on the healthcare industry, a number of growth opportunities have been born out of the pandemic, according to analysts with Frost & Sullivan.

A new analysis by the research firm, “Understanding the Impact of COVID-19 on the Healthcare Industry,” shows a projected 100% increase in the use and adoption of virtual care technology such as telemedicine, as well as a number of other changes set to alter the healthcare landscape, from medical imaging to hospital operations.

Here are a few takeaways:

Telemedicine, AI and the cloud
Teleradiology is expected to increase dramatically as hospitals face overwhelming demand for imaging following the end of the pandemic. The technology will enable providers to distribute requests over a larger set of radiologists, and help sift through expected imaging backlogs. It will also allow other types of physicians to meet rising demands to virtually engage with patients from the comfort of their homes.

AI too is expected to help out on the backlog end, as well as reduce physician burnout and improve patient workflows. Hospitals are expected to demand more AI and cloud-based technologies to track pandemic patient data and integrate operations on to single platforms. Such technologies will be effective for the care management of isolated patients too.

Advanced technologies
Greater demands for 3D printers and more modern equipment to replace ageing solutions in medical imaging are also expected to emerge. Technology for imaging is predicted to come more from outsourced suppliers, and pushes for miniaturized solutions and autonomous platforms are anticipated to become more popular.

Management of equipment is also expected to change, with providers required to store medical equipment to expand ICU beds in 96 hours. Construction efforts will focus more on expanding hospital ICU bed capacity by creating whole isolation floors that double the number of ICU beds.

Access to data
Advanced data analytics tools and greater interoperability will be required to help clinicians access patient data immediately. This access will be expected from all stakeholders in an open and secure environment, with security protocols in place to defend against new and emerging global hackers and attacks. Integration of EHRs at airports is also expected once the pandemic has lifted.

Supply chain optimization
Portable oxygen generators and fully mobile ICU field hospitals will rise in popularity among hospitals, primarily due to healthcare personnel shortages and constraints on hospital resources.

Medical imaging providers should expect changes in their supply chains, due to the impact of the China lockdown and a decrease in imaging unit shipments in H1. More opportunities for assembly and parts, however, are expected to be found in markets in Latin America and Eastern Europe.

Patient engagement and point-of-care testing
COVID-19 isolation has increased demand for engagement at home, which is partially responsible for the rise in telemedicine. Chronic disease cases and backlogs in elective procedures are anticipated to push OEMs to collaborate with providers on new patient management models.

Additional changes include the use of testing services at retail clinics and the adoption of home-based testing modalities.

"While we recognize the tragedy that COVID-19 has caused the world, we also realize that it has opened many opportunities for companies to rejuvenate in this 'new normal' ecosystem,” said Reenita Das, Transformational Health senior vice president and partner, Frost & Sullivan, in a statement.

Frost & Sullivan did not respond for comment.