2020: A Year Like No Other
In so many ways, 2020 has been a year none of us could have predicted or prepared for. For the healthcare industry, 2020 may well be remembered as an “annus horribilis,” as Queen Elizabeth II once coined. Sadly, we are closing out the year with a record number of hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19, even as a vaccine begins to make its way across the country.
While this year tested every aspect of normalcy, in the midst of such massive challenges, we also discovered glimmers of hope within the healthcare industry. From new tech advancements, to rapid medication production, to recognition of medical staff, there were some positive moments amidst the challenges of 2020.
Appreciation for Heroic Medical Personnel
As COVID-19 began to take its toll across the globe, physicians, nurses, clinicians, and medical staff stepped up to the challenge and delivered care for the millions who became sick with the virus. In cities across the country, nightly cheers showed our appreciation for healthcare workers who are fighting to keep us alive and fighting the virus. While the pandemic continues, we have discovered a renewed gratitude for healthcare workers and the lengths they go to protect our health.
Digital Healthcare Goes Mainstream
At a time when traditional health services weren’t available, and people were discovering new ways of living and working amid a lockdown, digital health tools saw an increase in usage. With daily life upended, we took to using our Fitbits, Apple Watches, and digital drug companions to manage health on our own. During 2020, digital health tools saw a nearly 50 percent increase in use. And with increased connectivity, more advancements in health monitoring and outputs, and the improved use alongside smartphones, digital health looks to support patient engagement in 2021.
Emergency Support and Donations
When critical care supplies became in short supply and hospitals and healthcare facilities were lacking financial support, individuals and companies stepped up with record donations and in some cases massive business redeployment. Whether it was stockpiles of personal protective equipment (PPE) or breweries bottling hand sanitizer, we found new ways to show our support via the items our health systems and workers needed most. From million-dollar gift donations to support vaccine development to support animals showing love to healthcare workers, we donated where we could to the healthcare system.
Being Together While Staying Apart
Zoom has become a verb in 2020 as social distancing and home isolation forced new ways for us to stay together while staying apart. This new video connectivity extended to aspects of healthcare as well, as patients used telemedicine (many for the first time) to stay connected to their healthcare providers. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) even granted wide-ranging use of telemedicine healthcare services, from behavioral health to primary care and advanced specialties. A survey of patients found that 75 percent were pleased with the experience and would likely continue using it in the future. While its use in healthcare isn’t new, 2020 brought telemedicine to the masses with new uses for the future.
Vaccine Production Accelerated
Most impactful, in 2020 we saw the power of science with the accelerated production of COVID-19 vaccines. Advances in technology, science, medicine, and expertise helped to usher in new vaccines in less than a year for distribution to the masses. Vaccine development is a complex process that typically takes about 10-12 years, but with legislative support and immense funding, vaccines are now being administered around the world. While vaccine distribution will take time, it represents the best of science and healthcare, providing renewed hope for a better 2021.
About the author: Omri Shor is the CEO of Medisafe, a leading digital companion platform that provides personalized treatment support to a multitude of users. He is an expert in digital medical applications. Shor works closely with major pharmaceutical companies developing and guiding direct connection to patients via innovative platforms to support improved health and treatment, with customization and guided therapy.