A new report by Deloitte has assessed the state of the world's healthcare sector. Image: CDC/Unsplash
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- Health equity is a priority for healthcare executive and organizations, a new Deloitte report finds.
- Global healthcare outlook predicts digital transformation will revolutionize the healthcare sector.
- COVID-19 has pushed mental health support services to the forefront, the report finds.
The topic of COVID-19 has dominated healthcare for the past two years, dramatically shifting the needs and requirements of the sector.
Deloitte has assessed the current state of the global healthcare sector and the challenges ahead in its 2022 Global Health Care Outlook report.
“Shifting consumer preferences and behaviour, the integration of life sciences and healthcare sector, rapidly evolving digital health technologies, new talent and care delivery models, and clinical innovation continue to be top of mind for healthcare executives globally,” says Dr Stephanie Allen, Deloitte’s Global Public Health Care & Social Services Leader, and author of the report.
“How they respond to these challenges while continuing to address the pandemic will be critically important in 2022,” she notes.
Here are six key issues shaping the future of global healthcare, according to Deloitte’s findings.
1. Health equity has become a priority
Health equity is a top concern for healthcare executives and organizations, the study found. Senior leaders recognize that achieving a mix of clinical, mental, social, emotional, physical and spiritual health is important and influenced not just by healthcare, but also by social, economic and environmental factors. However, Deloitte’s report notes that widespread disparities and discrimination keep certain populations from achieving well-being. The report highlights how COVID-19 has shed light on health equity initiatives by making them a priority.
Deloitte recommends several steps that healthcare organizations can take to define their health equity strategy. This approach needs to expand across four domains: the organization, its offerings, its community and its ecosystem, according to Deloitte’s report.
2. Environmental, social and governance strategies are needed for resilience
Most hospitals and healthcare organizations are not set up with energy efficiency in mind, Deloitte’s report notes. It is time for healthcare leaders and organizations to set targets to reduce the sector’s carbon footprint and to join the fight against climate change, the report stresses.
Furthermore, the report suggests that healthcare leaders aim to build resilience into their infrastructure, supply chain and workforce to withstand future natural disasters. It is also recommended that measures are put in place to deal with the rising number of patients with respiratory, cardiovascular and other climate change-induced health issues.
3. Mental health and well-being to the fore
COVID-19 has pushed mental and behavioural health up the political agenda, the report highlights; however, the pandemic has also unveiled the lack of timely access to quality and affordable services worldwide.
The report says that greater public awareness is still needed, with more political attention and more employer and government involvement. Digital technologies will play a major role by transforming mental and behavioural systems into more affordable and accessible services, the report says.
What is the World Economic Forum doing about mental health?
The World Economic Forum and Deloitte have developed a Global Governance Toolkit that aims to provide governments, regulators and independent assurance bodies with the tools to protect personal data, ensure high quality of service and address safety concerns. The toolkit aims to improve the accessibility, quality and safety of services.
4. Digital transformation
The pandemic has forced healthcare providers to rethink their strategies, and quickly switch to virtual care where possible. Digital transformation is essential for the future of healthcare, as the sector strives to put the consumer at the centre of its services, the report notes.
Cloud investment and the adoption of cloud technologies are on the rise, according to Deloitte, as the sector searches for ways to blend inpatient care with community and home-based care.
5. Medical science advancing at a rapid pace
COVID-19 has accelerated the advance of medical science; however, scientific discovery and research are expensive, the report points out.
Deloitte’s report recommends that healthcare leaders balance the benefits of medical technology innovation with the practicalities of controlling spending, noting that some Research and Development areas promise innovation beyond the reach of the poor and middle classes.
6. Public health reimagined
The pandemic drew attention to the healthcare sector’s inherent stresses, which has created an opportunity to "reimagine" the future of the sector, according to the report. Deloitte recommends that the sector rethinks its requirements and takes this opportunity to transform into a service that is human-centred, inclusive and ready for future shocks.
According to the report, this will require new partnerships across public and private healthcare providers, new sources of investment, fresh market entrants with diverse skills sets and significant steps to digitalize the healthcare sector. Deloitte stresses that healthcare outcomes depend on several factors, including housing and education, and that tackling these will require a combined effort.
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The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.
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