From Telemedicine to Social Distancing, Healthcare Looks Different in the Post-Pandemic World
Travel nursing has been at peak demand since the beginning of the year due to COVID-19. Now, hospitals are finally gaining ground on the pandemic, and the healthcare system is finding the balance to treat those infected. Many healthcare facilities are welcoming back patients for elective procedures, while most continue to offer telemedicine consultations. It’s a transitionary time for healthcare. But things aren’t going back to “normal;” rather they are transitioning into a “new normal.”
COVID-19 has already changed healthcare
Experts are largely focused on changes that must occur to keep patients safe. But, it’s also important to note how much the pandemic has already changed the way healthcare operates outside of the emergency room.
One big change was the postponement of elective medical procedures. To reduce patient exposure, hospitals across the country rescheduled surgeries for non-life-threatening medical issues. Physicians are only now beginning to schedule some elective surgeries again.
Doctors’ offices and non-emergent hospital settings also have begun changing the way they interact with patients. New virtual waiting rooms are being adopted across the board, where patients are able to submit paperwork and file forms electronically, rather than in person. Healthcare staff notify patients electronically when they may head to an exam room, rather than seating them in a crowded waiting area.
Finally, one of the biggest changes has been the widespread adoption of telemedicine. Reforms to insurance and privacy laws helped more individuals access virtual doctor’s visits. This allows more people to receive a basic checkup or discuss symptoms with a medical professional, without an in-person visit.
Changes are expected to continue
With many of these alterations taking root, the healthcare industry is riding the wave and embracing the changes moving forward. Ultimately, these changes have the potential to alter the future of healthcare.
As more hospitals and medical facilities resume regular operations and welcome back patients without urgent needs, the need for hospital staffing will rise. Operating Room (OR) nurses will likely be needed in greater numbers due to the increase in elective procedures.
The adoption of telemedicine may usher in a wave of nurses with technological skills as well. More nurses may be needed to navigate new telehealth programs and conduct nurse check-ins with patients for whom telemedicine is most convenient. Even after telemedicine is no longer a necessity in the pandemic, healthcare professionals expect to continue using it to serve patients.
Travel nurses have a key role to play
With these ongoing changes to the healthcare industry, hospitals will need time to adapt. In many cases, they’ll require additional help from travel nurses while their full-time staff work on accommodating new types of care.
For example, nurses won’t be able to adopt a scaled-up telehealth program overnight. They might need time to train and learn, then get the program up and running. During this period, the hospital will likely need travel nurses to help shoulder the full-time nurses’ work.
Travel nurses should stay up to date on the latest changes in healthcare — particularly following the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the time required to make procedural shifts, it’s likely that travel nurses will have more opportunities to help hospitals adapt as they look toward more innovative ways to serve patients.