Following the tumultuous year of Covid-19, drastic (yet necessary) changes have shaken up our everyday environments, enforcing new ways of approaching old tasks. From mandatory masks to strict social distancing measures, the need for a revolutionized healthcare system continues to impact traditional settings.
But with numerous strategies now in place and the Covid-19 vaccine set to roll out late March, what more can we expect in terms of healthcare for 2021?
From a shift in healthcare equipment demands to a more structured focus on mental health and wellbeing, the following article identifies potential trends that are likely to affect the nature of healthcare in Australia this year.
Enhanced biosecurity measures across all businesses
Whether it’s the instalment of sanitisation stations or the implementation of temperature checks and other screening technology, places of business can expect a plentitude of quarantine measures. Personal hygiene will continue to be spruiked, along with routine cleaning and subsequent disinfecting of communal areas. In regards to screening measures, health technology advances are likely to play a crucial part here, with increasingly innovative approaches enhancing the speed, accuracy and overall efficacy.
Herein, equipment such as disposable gloves, antibacterial surface wipes, lint-free towels and electronic thermometers are likely to become staple products beyond just the medical environment.
Continual implementation of PPE
Personal protective equipment (PPE) isn’t going anywhere any time soon. Surgical masks, gloves, goggles, gowns, aprons and face shields are all here to stay, with initial sourcing challenges now having been overcome.
According to the Australian Government, primary healthcare institutions across the country will be adequately stocked at all times, ensuring PPE is both available and suitably maintained to thereby safeguard healthcare workers against infection.
Telehealth gained insurmountable traction in 2020: a trend which is likely to only continue evolving. While healthcare professionals and patients alike may have initially harboured hesitations around the notion of delivering and receiving care via a laptop screen, the advantages of such have also materialised: increased number of consultations, ease of appointment attendance, and of course, reduced risk of spreading contagion.
However, barriers certainly continue to persist, therefore 2021 is likely to see investments into research to help generate new-and-improved ways of administering telehealth practices.
Increased focus on mental health care
With government-sanctioned lockdowns, loss of employment and remote work or schooling taking a severe toll on the public’s wellbeing last year, the subject of mental health is seeing an increasing push towards the limelight. An overall sense of uncertainty and trepidation continues to hover as we navigate our way through the new year, with many Aussies still experiencing the physical and psychological effects of 2020.
The Australian Government Department of Health has been monitoring the situation closely, offering increased levels of subsidised support to help treat anxiety, stress, anger and other common psychological reactions to the pandemic. This is likely to continue into 2021, with the addition of strengthened mental health support systems for frontline workers; mental health screenings for Covid-19 patients; dissemination of free, trustworthy and accurate information about the virus and its effects; and technology-enabled mental health services such as mobile apps and online treatment.