With the changing state of healthcare in the U.S., hospitals must rely on innovative new care delivery practices. In response to increasing physician shortages, staff burnout and high recruiting costs, care delivery solutions must change to keep up with patient demand.
The pandemic era has shown that hospitals must be better prepared to care for dramatically changing volumes of patients, while still retaining physicians through improved work-life balance. Throughout 2023 and beyond, we’ll see inpatient telemedicine adopted as a must-have solution to support hospital viability in response to these five predictions:
- Physician shortages will worsen. Already, the national physician shortage is crushing rural hospitals. The AAMC has predicted that by 2034 the U.S. will have an estimated shortage of 124,000 physicians. Rural hospitals are feeling this pain first as physicians are becoming much harder to recruit and retain. This will create a wave of telemedicine innovation as hospitals adopt new care options that enable physicians to serve multiple locations, and many more patients, virtually.
- Hospitals will learn to scale, on demand. COVID-19, followed by the RSV epidemic, has many hospitals reconsidering their ability to adapt to admit waves of patients in an instant. Already, most hospitals run at 90% capacity in their intensive care units (ICUs) to optimize efficiencies and costs. But, many hospitals felt the pain of the pandemic era, without the beds or physicians to support unexpected patient volumes. Proactive hospitals will seek new, more agile, care options to support patient overflows. Telemedicine, where physicians can support patient care virtually on demand, will see heightened adoption throughout 2023 as hospitals seek to be better prepared for new waves of viruses or other health crises.
- Physicians will demand more work flexibility. To remain competitive in a challenging physician recruiting environment, hospitals will open the door to greater work flexibility for physicians. Options for increased work-life balance, hybrid work and reduced work hours will become expected options for physicians – a career that typically hasn’t benefited from this flexibility in the past. Telemedicine will become a valued backup solution for hospitals looking to offer increased work balance to staff physicians as virtual telemedicine services cover night shifts or deliver staffing gap support. Further, physicians’ hours will become more adaptable as hospitals themselves improve their ability to deliver virtual care.
- Virtual care will become expected. If there was one silver lining to result from the pandemic years, it was the normalization of virtual communication experiences. Everyone in the U.S., regardless of age, has now seen the value of video communication – this has made the virtual care experience more easily accepted. In fact, the global adoption of virtual communication has become part of the everyday fabric of our lives and as a result virtual healthcare delivery is not a surprise. In fact, it’s even become expected, especially in times of virus outbreaks where distancing is desirable. This will accelerate the adoption of telemedicine across all health systems, rural and metropolitan, as it becomes a new, much more efficient way to offset care delivery experiences, from the clinic to the ICU.
- Hospitals will modernize care delivery, or close. As more and more hospitals feel the strain of physician shortages, they will be forced to modernize and embrace new virtual forms of care delivery. In some regions it will be as severe as modernize or close. For without access to needed physician staff, especially for very competitive specialties such as neurology, cardiology oncology and rheumatology, hospitals cannot sustain patient care or fund their operations. Every viable health system will need to invest in their technology infrastructure and telemedicine programs and processes to remain resilient for the years to come.
To learn more about how telemedicine is becoming the lifeblood of today’s hospital and benefiting its bottom line, watch this on-demand webinar.