What COVID-19 Means for Healthcare

How Will COVID-19 Change Healthcare Careers?

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of life in the U.S. People who were once comfortable going out into crowds, to restaurants, movies, or museums, are now encouraged to practice caution and to stay home when they can. Almost no industry in the country or around the world has been left untouched by the novel coronavirus. Among the industries that are seeing the greatest amount of change as a result of COVID-19 is the healthcare industry.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has predicted that the healthcare industry will grow and add new jobs at a rate that is much faster than any other industry. By 2028, the number of people employed in healthcare occupations is expected to increase by 14%[1]. But healthcare careers of the future are likely to look somewhat different than the careers of today, in many ways due to the coronavirus. Take a look at the ways the pandemic has changed careers so far and is likely to continue to do so in the years to come.

Increased Demand for Healthcare Employees

If anything, the initial days of the pandemic highlighted the need for more trained healthcare employees. There were concerns about limited numbers of COVID-19 tests and about not having an adequate number of employees in public health departments to connect with people who tested positive and trace their contacts. Additionally, there were concerns that a sudden influx of ill patients into hospitals would put a strain on limited resources, including limited employees.

In many ways, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown a bright light on the physician shortage in the U.S.[2]. The solution to the problem is not only to train more people for careers as doctors, but also to encourage people to pursue careers in support roles, such as nurses, medical assistants, pharmacy technicians, and medical coders.

A Shift to Telemedicine

Another notable change that has taken place as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic is that more and more medical practices have begun to offer patients telemedicine. Instead of making the trip to a doctor’s office for a routine physical or consultation, patients have the option of meeting with their physician and the medical team over a video conference. Prior to the pandemic, less than one-quarter of physicians used telehealth to communicate with their patients[3].

Beyond increase the safety of everyone involved by reducing the risk of transmission of the novel coronavirus, telemedicine has multiple benefits for patients and providers. Patients can more easily fit a visit to the doctor into their day, as they don’t have to travel to an appointment. Since seeing patients over video conference streamlines the process somewhat, providers are likely to be able to see more people over the course of a day.

Many providers in the U.S. were initially hesitant to adopt telemedicine, which explains the low rate of use before COVID-19. Now that more providers have begun to use it and found that it offers certain advantages, it is likely to remain.

A Shift to Home-Based Care

The pandemic has shone a bright light on the risks involved in living in a community such as a nursing home as well as the risks of being in a hospital for an extended period. As a result, just as more medical practices are embracing telemedicine, it is likely for providers to begin working with patients in their homes, providing home-based care for certain conditions[4].

More older adults might be inclined to age-in-place, rather than move to a nursing home or assisted living facility. Demand for home health aides was already expected to increase by 37% by 2028, according to the BLS. It’s likely that employment opportunities will grow even more as a result of the pandemic.

A Change in Responsibilities

Roles in the healthcare industry are likely to evolve somewhat, spurred on by the demands of the pandemic. As demands on physicians increase or if another surge of cases taxes the system, it might fall to nurses, nurse practitioners, and medical assistants to provide more care to patients. Over time, it could be much of preventative and primary care ends up being provided by nurses and physician’s assistants, leaving doctors responsible for providing specialized or emergency care.

Whether you’re interested in working directly with patients or want to work behind the scenes doing medical billing or coding, Orange Technical College offers a wide variety of career certificates in the health sciences at our five campuses. Get in touch today to request more information.

Sources:

  1. “Healthcare Occupations”, Bureau of Labor Statistics, April 10, 2020, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/home.htm
  2. “U.S. Physician Shortage is Growing”, Association of American Medical Colleges, https://www.aamc.org/news-insights/us-physician-shortage-growing
  3. “Telehealth Index: 2019 Physician Survey, American Well”, https://static.americanwell.com/app/uploads/2019/04/American-Well-Telehealth-Index-2019-Physician-Survey.pdf
  4. “9 Ways COVID Might Forever Upend the U.S. Healthcare Industry”, STAT, https://www.statnews.com/2020/05/19/9-ways-covid-19-forever-upend-health-care/
  5. “Will COVID Change the U.S. Healthcare System for Good?”, St. Joseph’s University, https://www.sju.edu/news/will-covid-19-change-us-health-care-system-good

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