It goes without saying—2020 was a year of incredible virtual care acceleration. The industry was propelled to the forefront of healthcare, with health systems seeing massive patient volumes, implementing virtual care across new service lines, and disrupting the status quo.
As you might recall, I made some rather bold predictions at the beginning of 2020 (go on, see for yourself what I had to say). It’s safe to say that COVID-19 completely blew most of my predictions out of the water and I was left to serve myself a pretty big piece of humble pie.
This year, I wanted to share my slice of pie with my fellow Zipnosis executives. I asked them to share their predictions they have going into 2021. Some thoughts may take you by surprise, while others follow the trends we’ve seen this year and hope to continue to see in the year to come.
Here’s a look at what we think is in store for the new year:
Ben Bowman, CFO:
I predict we will see the start of a dramatic reduction in the number of clinics operated by health systems. Clinics are expensive to lease, build-out, and maintain. Furthermore, this venue for delivering care is being replaced partly by virtual care. The clinic locations that do survive will be enhanced in both the physical appearance and the professionals working there.
This shift resembles the massive branch rationalizations that occurred in the banking industry decades ago (and continues today). Bank branches, like clinics, are set up under long term leases because of the customization needed to deliver care or services. It will take time for the clinic leases to come up for renewal, but when they do you can be certain each location will be under high scrutiny to justify a return on investment.
There’s more where this came from…check out our blog post on what else healthcare can learn from the banking industry.
And you know what they say, great minds think alike. Both Catherine Murphy, COO, and Dr. Lisa Ide, CMO had nearly the same prediction:
In 2021, we will see sustained and significant adoption of virtual behavioral health services and it will become more mainstream to engage in mental healthcare via virtual care.
In other words, behavioral health providers will only see a small percentage of their patients and clients return to in-person visits, while the overwhelming majority will continue receiving care virtually as they have through the pandemic. This shift will also help support individuals in need of these services, who may be uncomfortable or unable to access in-person facilities.
Me (Jon Pearce, CEO):
Now that consumers have grasped a better understanding of telehealth and its related technology—my prediction is that for the first time in the history of healthcare, more visits will happen outside of traditional care settings (like hospitals, primary care clinics, surgery centers, etc.) than in them. These “outside” visits will be a large mix of virtual care within those providers as well as care brought by D2C companies, and in-home services.
We know that we’re going to see some big changes in the year ahead. If we’re right, we’ll have to wait to see. Although, I am interested to see which one of us wins the award for Best (virtual care) Fortune Teller. I’d love to hear your thoughts—what changes do you predict in the coming year for healthcare?