The Business Group on Health outlines five trends the healthcare industry will see this year around virtual care, mental health, health equity, healthcare delivery, and the workforce.
The Business Group on Health (the Business Group) unveiled five key healthcare trends to watch in the coming year.
In a press release Tuesday morning, the Business Group identified virtual care, mental health, and health equity as the top trends, along with healthcare delivery and a changing workforce.
"Virtual care will proliferate, companies will increasingly focus on employee mental health and emotional well-being, and the health care ecosystem will examine and address issues of health equity," Ellen Kelsay, president and CEO of the Business Group, said in a statement.
Below are specific details around the five trends to watch this year, all of which were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the Business Group.
1. "The proliferation of virtual care:" Virtual care, which gained popularity and "exploded" in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will continue to see growth in the next year.
According to the Business Group, virtual options will improve and include new features such as "weight management, care management for chronic conditions such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease, prenatal care, and musculoskeletal care management/physical therapy.”
In addition, the Business Group stated that more attention will be given to the evaluation of the “quality, outcomes, effectiveness, patient experience and cost of virtual care options and innovations.
2. "A reimagining of healthcare delivery:" Unsurprisingly, the pandemic also affected the way healthcare delivery is operated, including "moving lower acuity care out of the hospital to free up beds for patients with COVID-19 and other serious conditions."
The Business Group stated that this trend will continue, and efforts to change healthcare delivery will increase in 2021 to "drive improvements in quality and value." Additionally, alternate payment and delivery models will see an uptick as well.
3. "A spotlight on mental health and emotional well-being:" A focus on mental health post-pandemic for the workforce started last year due to the pandemic, which will continue in 2021.
The Business Group noted that many employees faced "stress and anxiety, loneliness, addiction, depression and other serious mental illness" during the COVID-19 outbreak. Employers have increased their focus on these areas affecting employees and created novel approaches to take care of the workforce, including Employee Assistant Programs and mental health benefits.
4. "Adapting to the well-being needs of a changing workforce:" While the pandemic has affected the changing workforce, factors such as the economy and expectations from younger workers joining the workforce, have switched the focus to the needs of employees.
According to the Business Group, employers will continue to “demonstrate flexibility and support employee needs through leave, remote work and other benefits" in 2021.
5. "Addressing Gaps in Health Equity:" Health equity and disparities in healthcare became a large focus area during the pandemic.
While healthcare leaders increased their focus on the social determinants of health (SDoH) and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) during the pandemic, there will be an even greater focus in 2021.
"The health care ecosystem, including providers, suppliers and payers, will boost efforts to examine and address health equity, while mitigating the harmful effects of social determinants of health," the Business Group stated.
Melanie Blackman is a contributing editor for strategy, marketing, and human resources at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.