Oct 25, 2021

What’s Next for Healthcare

Rhonda Pollard
Director Health + Wellness Environments Opensquare

What’s Next for Healthcare.
The challenges we’ve faced, the victories we’ve won, and the future we’re creating.

The 2021 BisNow State of Health Care Seattle event is a wrap, and it was arguably the most impactful ever. After all, we’re coming out of one of the most tumultuous challenging years ever experienced – one where we asked healthcare systems, providers, and clinicians to do the impossible. We asked them to care for our most vulnerable community members under duress, and to do it without enough or the right equipment. And every day, we asked our frontline workers to balance caring for their patients and their families, a juggling act commanding our respect and attention.

From increasing and embracing new technologies to diversifying and controlling costs, the challenges healthcare professionals face today are myriad and daunting. You can read more about 6 Current Healthcare Challenges here. Together with a panel of experts, we sat down to discuss a way forward. We shared our frustrations, our victories, and discussed how we can come together, bring our best selves, and together create a better industry than the one COVID imposed. After 18 months apart, the conversation was positive and energetic, as were our first elbow bumps in just as long.

Here are four key takeaways from our discussion.

Increasing Equity
We sought to define what equity means in a way that extends beyond patients to our teams and organizations alike. That means a collective effort that seeks to eradicate racism and ensure that every child receives the care they need regardless of their zip code.

Whether it’s how our reimbursements are structured, the way caregivers are compensated, or how we distribute care throughout our communities, truth is we’ve built a healthcare system that’s flawed. Rebuilding it, so it’s fair and equitable to all will take all of us working together.

Reaching Milestones
In the ongoing battle against COVID, we were excited that Seattle was the first US city to reach a 70% vaccination rate. And when we pressed our panel members further, the news got better. Some of our healthcare providers have reached 98% of employee populations already vaccinated. It’s a huge milestone and reflecting on how we’ve overcome the challenges faced for over a year gave us even more hope. Together, we’ve broken down communication barriers and learned how to collaborate and share resources across healthcare systems. While it may have taken a pandemic to help, the healthcare system pivoted toward a much-needed direction.

Battling Burnout
Coming off the heels of healthcare’s most trying year in memory where employee bandwidth, front line worker burnout, and profit margins were challenged–– it’s encouraging to see many issues being addressed. Healthcare organizations have created plans for employee bonuses. They’re also making certain employees have access to the amenities and technology needed to stay happy and healthy with a better work-life balance.

Expanding Telehealth
Even as in-person patient visits increase; telehealth will continue to expand. And what that means for facilities that currently support health care is continued change. It’s a change the CEOs on our panel have been planning on for a while as hospitals shift focus toward critical and intensive care delivery while home health care is also on the rise. Telehealth has become more than a convenience; it’s delivering needed services to rural communities and increasing access to quality care.

While our panel gave us a welcome breath of optimism for the healthcare industry, we’ve still got a lot of work to do. When 18% of caregivers leave the workforce annually, in 2020, that figure was over 30%. These are workers who patients rely on and we need back, especially as the Baby Boom generation begins to enter the healthcare system in greater numbers. Though numerous serious healthcare challenges still exist, we are showing signs of improvement. And together, we’re writing healthcare’s next chapter.