Our world post-pandemic will never be the same. Right now, new realities are being shaped, shifting the ways people think, feel and take action. This seismic shift is more apparent than ever in healthcare—the virus has exposed the many cracks in the American healthcare system, ripe for disruption. As with any challenge of global proportions, both public and private sector will need to play a role in making change for good, with brands on the forefront already taking action. If necessity is the mother of invention, the months and years ahead are primed for a wave of new and radically different ways of treating patients and better supporting the healthcare professionals that make it all possible.
For the first time in history, individuals aged 65 or above outnumbered children under five years of age globally—a growing cohort drastically in need of better support and safety nets. Extending healthspan—the time during which older adults are healthy and able to function independently—could ease some of this pressure, and it begins with addressing the social determinants of health. From disrupting senior living facility models, to healthier diets, accessible exercise and supportive mental health measures—the foundation has never been more important to successful longevity. Nutritious meal providers like Mom’s Meals are just one example of brands working to support better health with digital meal plans that meet aging clients’ specific needs with medically tailored meals, delivered to their door.
Fragile supply chains for active pharmaceutical ingredients are leading to a bipartisan consensus that the public sector needs to play a greater role in development of medicines. While leaders in pharma and biotech are battling to bring a coronavirus vaccine to market, younger startups are making the most of the opportunity too. Britain’s BenevolentAI is one startup using its artificial intelligence to fast-track a cure. SkyCell, a medicine transporter, is another building momentum, booking out more than 200 additional transportation pallets to send 46 tons of medication safely to China.
As the healthcare system becomes overwhelmed, alternative technologies can provide relief to providers stretched thin—and worried about their own personal health. Robots are one such savior—as in, they can’t get sick, making them ideal for performing jobs in hospitals and connecting those locked down in isolation. Blue Ocean Robotics is one Denmark company developing autonomous disinfection robots that help kill viruses and bacteria in hospitals using UV light. The line has seen 400% year on year growth since its market launch two years ago.
In the wake of COVID-19, federal and state agencies are rapidly revising guidelines and reducing barriers to connected health, giving providers the opportunity to try things they’ve hesitated to try before, and leading to adoption at lightning speed. More than just virtual conversations, telehealth startups are working to provide value in increasingly efficient ways. CirrusMD created an app that lets you text your doctors your symptoms, snap a picture or two, and in real time, get a prescription and be on your way.
As viruses spread at a breakneck pace and chronic illnesses around the globe continue to balloon, the system has never been so taxed. In order to break these systemic trends, the healthcare industry is facing intense pressure to proactively deliver care and solutions before the problem even starts. Artificial intelligence is primed to make a sweeping impact—tackling everything from designing new drugs, to disrupting imaging and medical records. AI algorithms can tackle these challenges faster than any provider—giving back precious time to spend on human-centric interaction.
One silver lining of the pandemic presents an opportunity for challenger brands to gain a foothold. Previously, legislative roadblocks for new technologies and solutions have prevented new entrants from connecting with providers, especially without the promise of reimbursement. But as non-traditional methods prove effectual in the midst of this crisis, we can expect to see a sea change of legislation once the pandemic is over. Those who will quickly gain adoption are wise to capture rich data in the meantime to craft a compelling case.