Two years ago, the worst public health crisis in recent history began when COVID-19 started spreading across the country. Its impact on the healthcare industry is still unfolding and likely will last for years to come.
Hospitals overhauled their operations early on amid stay-at-home orders and other restrictions, and while hospitals have treated virus patients amid various waves, other volumes still haven’t returned. As people continue delaying important screenings and care, it raises concerns about long-term implications for patient health and the effect on the nation's health system.
This comes as federal relief funds that helped offset lower revenues dwindle, spurring providers to focus more heavily on outpatient services and other service lines they believe will better cater to demand.
The pandemic also gave way to other forms of care delivery, namely telehealth and virtual-care tools. That's spurring hospitals — especially nonprofits — to invest more heavily in companies with products they can use and scale to diversify revenue.
Digital health, telehealth and hospital-at-home companies that saw heightened demand as patients avoided medical settings likely will continue to be a focus for providers as technology becomes more interwoven into everyday medical delivery.
Meanwhile, staffing shortages early in the pandemic pale in comparison to those facing hospitals today. Front-line workers have reached their breaking points amid widespread stress and burnout, and many are quitting their jobs or plan to soon.
Those in the industry fear hospitals won't be able to replace all who leave as nursing schools face their own challenges educating the future healthcare workforce.
This series dives into some of the biggest shifts facing the industry at the pandemic's two-year mark.
Additional stories to come.