Over the past year, the healthcare industry flexed its strength and accelerated digital transformation timelines at an unimaginable rate. At this midpoint of 2021, healthcare providers (HCPs) must continue to focus on optimizing their newly adopted and expanded care modalities. They must maintain their focus on agility while supporting their employees, protecting vulnerable patient populations, and balancing unforgiving budgetary constraints.

In 2021, a spate of trends in the healthcare provider space have emerged:

  • Lack of equity in healthcare is a hot topic issue that cannot be ignored. Marginalized communities grapple with inequalities in social determinants of health that negatively impact health outcomes, resulting in higher incidence rates of some of the most expensive conditions to manage. Institutional change starts with workforce diversification, decision-making in accordance with brand values, and designing experiences that eliminate hurdles to care. These enhanced experiences will improve healthcare experiences for everyone; inclusive design is good design.
  • Employee burnout continues to scorch healthcare. The clinician burnout behemoth has taken on a new form. Burdened with onerous processes, the workforce now faces PTSD and deteriorating mental health intensified by the pandemic. Health systems must go back to the drawing board, rethinking each experience from clinician training to productivity and automation, to preserve their workforce.
  • Connected healthcare ecosystems are exposing security soft spots. Malevolent actors pounced on HCP ecosystems in 2020 to the tune of a 9,851% increase in response-endpoint attacks and $20 billion in ransomware payouts. As providers face increasing pressure to build ecosystems interconnected with third parties, so too does the attack area. In a digital-first future with unscrupulous adversaries, healthcare providers must consider security at the onset of design and assess risk exposure at all junctures.
  • Hangovers from the deluge of digital spend sets in as inconsistent experiences abound. Despite enormous resource allocation from healthcare providers that pivoted to digital-first strategies in response to the pandemic, digital asset usage by consumers continues to underwhelm. Healthcare providers have apps, but website portal usage fell to 32% in 2021, according to Forrester Analytics’ Consumer Technographics® US Healthcare Recontact Survey, 2021. Digital product leaders must focus on the intersection of customer experience and user experience to create stickiness with consumers.

In 2020, HCPs demonstrated their ability to respond to emergent crises. And while 2021 and beyond may or may not hold a similar black swan event, the stakes will remain high as the nation’s health and well-being are on the line. Being informed and getting in front of the most critical trends is a much-needed start.

Learn more about the prevailing trends in the healthcare provider space in our report “The Top Trends For Healthcare Providers, 2021,” and for more information on change drivers and how HCP leaders should respond. If you have additional questions, book an inquiry here.

(Eric Bellomo, researcher, contributed to this blog)