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While many healthcare organisations began to emerge from the once-in-a-lifetime disruption and challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic in 2022, many are jumping straight into a new service environment that will have large impacts on the way that healthcare is consumed and delivered.

In some markets, the extreme pressures and enormous service disruptions of the past couple of years may not yet be consigned to the past. But this is leading healthcare providers to explore new service workflows and technologies as they seek to keep up with evolving patient expectations and demands.

How each individual organisation responds will depend on their own unique challenges, but here are three trends that will provide the backdrop to the industry in 2023.

Inflation increasing resource pressures

The new challenge of considerable increases in inflation across multiple aspects of service provision is already impacting hospital budgets. From enormous rises in energy costs to the impact of supply chain bottlenecks on medical supplies – and the resultant increases in labour costs to help staff dealing with the impact of inflation – these are very challenging times for those providing healthcare services, both public and private.

As well as increasing staff costs, staff shortages are also posing a huge challenge, reaching a critical stage of pressure for healthcare organisations almost globally. Across the world, healthcare organisations report difficulties with recruiting, training, and retaining sufficient staff resources despite a universal increase in demand for healthcare services. The World Health Organization forecasts a worldwide shortfall of 10 million health workers by 2030.

The key to getting remote healthcare right in 2023 will be providing a suitable hybrid balance between in-person and telehealth services.

- Dave O’Shaughnessy, Healthcare Practice Lead at Avaya

Because of this, healthcare providers are now more open to technology solutions that can help to ease the administrative burden on staff and patients. Anything that can alleviate the frustrating time demands that get in the way of health service access and provision is seen as a win.

For example, automation of certain patient services such as management of appointments, renewal of prescriptions, service payments, or even some medical triaging could be satisfying and beneficial for patients and hospital administrative staff.

Likewise, improving clinical staff mobility through the usage of smartphones enabled with role-based communications that are integrated with the hospital’s electronic health records will help to improve care team reachability and ultimately improve patient-facing engagement.

Remote healthcare and telehealth services evolve

One of the most transformative, and arguably beneficial, impacts to healthcare service provision during the Covid-19 pandemic was the increase in availability, usage and appreciation of remote healthcare and telehealth services. Even as we (hopefully) approach the final stages of the pandemic, resuming face-to-face patient healthcare services, we see many healthcare organisations and patients continuing to prefer the option of virtual healthcare services.

You can’t argue with the logic: A range of suitable telehealth services are often more convenient for patients and can be provided by the healthcare organisations more efficiently and cost-effectively.

The key to getting remote healthcare right in 2023 will be providing a suitable hybrid balance between in-person and telehealth services. Healthcare consumers want to know that one-off video consultations will not be the limit to engaging with their healthcare provider. The importance of open communication between the patient and their healthcare provider will be essential for the successful adoption and usage of these services. Enabling patients to communicate over their channel of preference and one they feel best suits their healthcare needs will become a key part of successful remote care services.

AI-enabled, personalised healthcare services delivered at scale

The delivery of communications-rich engagement to patients as outlined above is all well and good, but let’s also remember that these communications must be manned by resource-strained healthcare organisations. As a result, we can see how a bottleneck in service access and provision could occur, and this is where personalised digital healthcare services will help to alleviate things in 2023.

Digital healthcare patients will increasingly experience a more personalised, individually tailored healthcare service plan that is unique to their needs, their personal profile, and other diverse characteristics. Personalised healthcare for patients means that they have more flexible choices in how they engage and communicate with the healthcare service, such as switching from voice to video, email and SMS, chatbot to live agent chat, and of course in-person services when appropriate.

The key to unlocking this personalisation at scale will be the incorporation of AI into the patient experience. When AI and data are combined with the power of, say, a cloud-based, digital contact centre, healthcare providers will have a unique opportunity to adapt their services to what individual patients need and will respond to.

An example of this personalisation in action could be found in those suffering from chronic illnesses. A patient with high blood pressure could be on a healthcare plan of diet, exercise and medication. This patient could be monitored by a digital wearable, whose data is fed into an AI-based workflow specifically for chronic illness patients that determines daily activity and goals. The workflow could notify the patient over a chatbot or SMS and suggest an increase in movement or activity as well as taking medication, or a recognition of reaching goals in a gamification-style reward play.

Because this engagement with patient is unique to them, with tailored goals and tasks, the patient is more likely to respond and adhere to guidance than some impersonal, general leaflet or website. Additionally, this is digitally delivered, and done at scale, at a far higher level than could be done with human-clinical resources alone – alleviating resource pressure on healthcare organisations, but assisting patients individually.

The writer is the Healthcare Practice Lead at Avaya

Want to stay on top of these trends, create new patient experiences, and have solutions customised for your own unique challenges? Find out how Avaya can help you.