The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted daily lives, leaving millions with devastating effects on mental health. While there are much higher levels of emotional distress than normal, the severity of stress depends on factors like age, race, and living conditions.
Some people are more at risk than others are. Clear differences in stress levels across all demographic subgroups are prevalent. The geriatric and low-income group have carried higher psychological burdens due to the pandemic so far, and we have yet to see the long-term effects that could transpire as a result. Even when the pandemic is brought under control, grief, anxiety and depression will continue to affect people and communities.
In such a situation, it is crucial to prove people with the support they need. Governments are putting in their best efforts in tertiary care facilities and community health centres.
Hidden Costs of COVID-19’s Potential Impact on Healthcare Services
As the death toll crosses a million mark and the pandemic is far from over, the direct impact of COVID-19 is substantial. McKinsey’s study group anticipates delayed or indirect impact due to COVID-19 in the tune of $125 billion to $200 billion in incremental yearly US health system expenditure. This increase is due to deferred or cancelled treatment on chronic and episodic diseases coupled with the long-term impact of behavioural health exacerbations.
Change in Consumer Preferences Towards Healthcare Services
In the U.S., telehealth visits have soared to more than 40% by the fourth week of April 2020 on the back of rising cases of Coronavirus from mere less than 1% of total physician visits.
So, the traditional healthcare service models are being disrupted high time. A tech savvy and well-informed customer anticipates business models to serve their convenience of home care settings. Telemedicine emerged as a clear choice while customers started exploring alternative platforms for being treated. Government’s favourable telemedicine guidelines and health practitioner’s wide acceptance of virtual consultation assisted acceleration in the adoption rate of tele consults.
Similar trends have been observed while availing diagnostic tests by consumers. Market players are re-imagining their trade models to hit the right cord between conventional collection centres against mobile sampling and complementary organizational structure.
In e-pharmacy space, one of the recent trends in the sector is money in-flow and M&A activity. The lockdown phase has witnessed unprecedented growth in revenues of e-pharmacy companies.
The commercial potential in this space and its future upscaling opportunity is validated by the recent announcement by large corporations. For instance, the PharmEasy and Medlife merger is in the advance stages to create US$1 Bn entity. Recently, Reliance Retail acquired Netmeds. Furthermore, market consolidation is expected in the near term.
Consumer resistance for home post-procedure care has reduced during COVID-19 as various surveys concluded. Many well-known hospitals with deep pockets are setting up in-house home healthcare services while others are collaborating with reputable home healthcare players for continuing care. To woo consumers, bundled pricing is being introduced by many clinics to offer subscription-based customized packages to manage care.
As per the World Health Organization, palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial, and spiritual.
There is a seismic shift in how palliative and hospice care workers could operate. There would be a high utility of technology with the advent of telehealth as a more accessible option in the longer run. This can keep family members who are distant in the loop and help to make the appointment process seamless.
Corporate Wellness Programs
Corporations across the world are increasingly investing in employee wellness. Many are empowering employees with access to virtual meditation tools and counselling services to counter increased stress levels and anxiety. As remote care for mental health gain momentum, traction for video and on-demand resources will increase.
Johnson & Johnson has rolled out a global ‘telemedicine program’ to address employee concerns. It also includes offering help with regards to physical and mental health to their immediate family. Confidential counselling support is also being offered through J&J employee assistance program. Indian auto major, Mahindra, has organized interactive sessions with a nutritionist and a webinar on emotional hygiene.
Emphasis of corporates on employee wellness programs as much of the workforce in working remotely ensures upward growth trajectory of the corporate wellness industry.
All these aspects are seen to benefit the medical fraternity, which covers hospitals, diagnostic centres, nursing care units, rehabilitation centres, and ambulance services amongst others. This also impacts the pharmaceutical industry in many ways. Demand for their services and products is poised for strong growth and represents an attractive opportunity for operators to expand their services and revenue streams.