Healthcare industry to face rising medication errors and declining patient confidence in 2022: Forrester

As the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic, the healthcare sector faces a variety of challenges and continuing changes in healthcare delivery, according to a new 2022 forecast report.

The report was written by analysts at Forrester, a global market research company.

They identified five key forecasts for the coming year:

1. Health disparities will have twice the negative impact on rural Americans than on urban Americans

Patients living in rural communities are more likely to be injured for a variety of reasons, including social disparities, chronic health conditions, higher suicide rates, and widespread hospital closures. In 2020 alone, nearly two dozen rural hospitals closed, Natalie Schibell, senior healthcare analyst at Forrester, told Fierce Healthcare. As a result, patients had to travel further afield for treatment.

Other aggravating factors include barriers to broadband access and licensing issues for clinicians. While these barriers are nothing new, “the pandemic was really the nail in the coffin,” Schibell said. These factors also have an impact COVID-19 vaccination rate.

To counter these problems, more federal help is needed to facilitate virtual care and better reimbursement models, Forrester noted in his report. Schibell made this prediction after widening COVID-19 death rates among urban and rural populations, she said, which are twice as high in rural areas.

2. Labor shortages will double the medication error rate among providers

Forrester’s analysis estimated that rapid clinician turnover and burnout will contribute to “irreversible impacts on patients” such as adverse drug reactions due to medication errors and administrative flaws. In turn, the risk of disease and death in patients will increase.

To combat this, Forrester recommends being vigilant about prescribing practices using bar-coded drug delivery systems and intravenous infusion safety systems. A hospital’s electronic health record can also be used to intercept adverse drug events.

The use of these technologies should be complemented by drug administration training programs.

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3. Healthcare will no longer be seen as a trusted industry as disinformation and cyber attacks continue

As misleading or false information about COVID-19 continues to spread, Forrester predicts that more patients will avoid treatment for their condition and more clinics will close. Cyber ​​attacks in the healthcare sector are also pervasive and costly and further erode confidence in commerce.

“Until the industry demonstrates its ability to contain these risks, healthcare will only step back in confidence-building measures,” the report said.

4. Sixty percent of virtual care visits will be related to mental health

In July of this year, mental health accounted for 60% of virtual care visits, according to national data mentioned by Forrester. The company predicts that this rate will continue until 2022 despite the fact that the total number of virtual care visits is expected to decline.

“The mental health crisis will not abate after the pandemic,” the report said.

In fact, Forrester predicts that mental health will be the first area of ​​healthcare to transition to large-scale virtual or hybrid models of care. Other areas of appeal that will drive demand for these services include accessibility and cost effectiveness. Increased competition also has the potential to lower costs, which will further encourage teletherapy adoption and patient engagement.

RELATED: Hundreds of Organizations Urge Governors to Expand Telehealth Licensure Flexibilities

5. The number of home care providers will triple

Although home hospitalization programs are not new, their reimbursement has always been limited. The pandemic has been a major catalyst for the transfer of acute hospital care to patients’ homes, given the need to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and limit surge capacity.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have embarked on a “sprint” to approve hospitals providing home care for Medicare reimbursement, the report noted, adding 29 in the third quarter of 2021. Rule proposed by CMS will also allow a refund based on the value of these services.

In addition to federal pressure to bring attention to this space, Forrester expects investment in these programs to continue to grow. “Hospitals need to reinvent the delivery of care beyond brick and mortar, and home hospital models are a viable option,” the report said. Schibell stressed that technologies such as remote patient monitoring and artificial intelligence must be harnessed to help usher in this change and scale.

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