2021 Global Health Care Outlook: Accelerating industry change

Published: 3 March 2021

Viewpoints / key findings

The COVID-19 pandemic is placing enormous strain on the global health care sector’s workforce, infrastructure, and supply chain, and exposing social inequities in health and care. COVID-19 is also accelerating change across the ecosystem and forcing public and private health systems to adapt and innovate in a short period.

2021 global health care outlook: Accelerating industry change was released by Deloitte LSHC Team. The report looks at six issues driving change in the health care sector and present questions and actions health leaders should consider in the coming year. How stakeholders analyze, understand, and respond to these issues will shape their ability to navigate from recovering to thriving in the post-pandemic “new normal” and advance their journey along the path to the Future of Health.

Global health care sector issues in 2021

We expect industry leaders to use the momentum ignited by organizational and ecosystem responses to COVID-19 to address six pressing sector issues in 2021.

  • Digital transformation and interoperable data: Transitioning from standardized clinical protocols to personalized medicine; Leveraging AI to provide real-time care, interventions, and nudges to change consumer behavior and patterns
  • Socioeconomic shifts: Programs to support a person’s holistic well-being; Recognition of the need to focus on underserved populations and work with governments to modify policies and programs
  • Care model innovation: Changing focus from acute care to prevention and well-being; Transitioning from standardized clinical protocols to personalized medicine; Evolving payment models: value-based/ outcome-focused; universal coverage; Making financial operation and performance improvements
  • Work and talent: Introduction of new business models, exponential technology, and agile ways of working; Capacity and demand analysis to match the pandemic’s needs; Utilization of remote staff (clinical and nonclinical)
  • Consumers and the human experience: Consumers’ increased ownership of their health and data; Provision of clear and concise information on treatment care and cost; Balance between virtual visits and a trusted physician’s relationship
  • Collaborations: Ecosystems that enable real-time data and analytics and serve as centers for education, prevention, and treatment; Ecosystems that connect consumers to virtual, home, in-person, and auxiliary care providers 

Questions/actions health care leaders should consider for 2021

  • How can our organization tune our services to meet consumers’ immediate health care needs and goals and support their journey to the Future of Health?
    Yet every person’s health journey is different. Health care organizations should acknowledge this fact and tune their services to elevate each encounter into a personalized health experience. Among potential actions: deploy new tools and services; explore ways to benefit consumers through data interoperability; earn consumer trust through empathy and reliability.
  • How can pandemic-related disruptions inform and guide our care model innovation efforts?
    COVID-19 has disrupted both the nature and the timeline of industry transformation. Organizations must redefine types of services (from "sick care” for the physical body to include consumers’ mind, spirit, and body), expand the definition of location (virtual health and automated care, etc) and evaluate new service and financial models (to put the consumer at the center).
  • What actions can help our organization accelerate digital transformation and enable radically interoperable data?
    Digital transformation can help individual health care organizations and the wider public and private health ecosystem improve ways of working, expand access to services, and deliver a more effective patient and clinician experience. Supportive actions are creating a robust health IT infrastructure, investing in virtual health technology and train clinicians in its use, addressing the challenge of data interoperability.
  • How can we better address the socioeconomic, mental well-being, and behavioral health issues that impact health access and equity?
    To help improve health and wellness, create business value, and build stronger, more resilient societies, Deloitte suggested the following steps: intervene earlier, create more access points deep into communities, combine the power of disruptive technologies with ecosystems to create change, and develop a framework of actions and commitments.
  • How can we collaborate for new solutions and improved outcomes?
    COVID-19 ignited unprecedented collaboration across organizations, industries, academia, and governments and irrefutably demonstrated the value of partnering to deliver new solutions and improved outcomes. As health care stakeholders contemplate how to build alliances for future value creation, they should consider to leverage each partner’s strengths and identify ambitions.
  • How can we address the health care workforce impacts of COVID-19 and build future adaptability and resilience?
    Addressing near-term workforce challenges arising from COVID-19 and building future workforce adaptability and resilience will require data-driven, human-centric solutions. Companies can consider to adopt cloud technologies and remote spaces, use data science and predictive analytics to improve collaboration, foster diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I),as well as enduring human skills that make for a more resilient organization.

Global health care sector stakeholders are likely to face considerable challenges in 2021. Yet, even as they join forces against the pandemic’s immediate crises, organizations also need to understand, analyze, and respond to the trends that are propelling them toward the future of health.

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