The global COVID-19 pandemic is clearly impacting healthcare systems in every country. As people show symptoms and require medical intervention, facilities have to pull together to support higher demand for services.

However, these direct implications are not the only ways in which the pandemic has impacted healthcare organisations.

Meeting all healthcare needs during the pandemic

Healthcare workers need to continue treating all patients with non-COVID diseases and injuries as well as be prepared to treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients. As a result, telemedicine has become a reliable alternative to face-to-face appointments. Australian government programs such as Medicare Benefits Scheme (MBS) have enabled some health providers to expand their investments in these tools to assist in patient care, PwC reported.

Healthcare workers, beds, ventilators and other equipment are all essential to treating patients. Unfortunately, these resources are not equally divided among the areas that are experiencing the greatest impact from COVID-19 outbreaks.

To ensure all citizens have access to the treatment they need, it is essential that healthcare organisations carefully distribute resources. The Australian government is assisting with these expenses by committing to pay for half the costs needed to provide COVID-related services from private hospitals that would otherwise cater to elective surgeries, IBISWorld reported. Even still, these investments are costly for individual practices.

Pandemic-related effects on veterinary services

Healthcare for animals has also been greatly impacted by the pandemic.

Although veterinarians are considered essential businesses in Australia, there remain some limitations to accessing these services.

Vets are helping to continue providing pet care in a safe way through conducting certain procedures outdoors, Dr. Phil Tucak, a veterinary communications management consultant, shared with DVM360. Vets are also using personal protective equipment (PPE) more frequently to prevent the spread of illness.

Vets have also had to postpone nonessential procedures to follow guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leading to slow cash flow during this period of time.

Post-pandemic factors for healthcare and veterinary providers

Once the peak of the pandemic begins to subside, healthcare providers will begin evaluating how to resume their normal operations.

There are multiple factors healthcare providers need to consider leading up to and during the post-pandemic phase:

1. Backlog of elective or nonessential procedures

Healthcare providers have had to postpone certain non-essential procedures in order to minimise face-to-face contact, as well as to free up resources to better address pandemic-related illnesses.

Once COVID-19 subsides, these non-essential procedures will need to be completed and providers will have to determine the best way to work through them, Sarah Butler, health leader at PwC Australia, explained in a video. This will require careful scheduling, as well as ensuring the proper equipment is available for each procedure.

2. What lessons did we learn?

Everyone is learning new ways to handle the stressors caused by the pandemic – from governments creating funding programs to citizens adopting healthy behaviours.

From a healthcare standpoint, many providers are becoming familiar with tools like telemedicine. Moving forward, healthcare providers may choose to make changes to the way they conduct business based on these newfound lessons. For example, telemedicene resources such as virtual appointments and online scheduling may become more common and have a place in a post pandemic world.

3. Planning for the next pandemic

Pandemics cannot be predicted, and there is always a chance one will emerge. Numerous outbreaks have made major impacts around the world, such as the swine flu (H1N1) pandemic in 2009-2010, or the Ebola epidemic in 2014.

Healthcare systems must evaluate the equipment they relied upon during these peak pandemic levels, and strategise on how to replenish their supplies and improve their processes. This is the best way to be as prepared as possible when the next major health emergency occurs.

The pandemic is also making clear which populations are most vulnerable to health risks. Large cities propagated the spread of the virus due to more frequent person-to-person interactions, for example. Meanwhile, elderly populations have been more susceptible to complications due to the illness.

Understanding these disproportionate levels of vulnerability can help healthcare providers strategise ways to minimise risk as much as possible for these communities.

How UnLockB2B can help healthcare and animal care providers respond?

As the pandemic continues to unfold, one thing is clear: The best way to counter a major health emergency is to be prepared. Having the right resources, including experts, equipment and effective strategies, is essential.

Healthcare providers will likely need to invest in various types of equipment, such as PPE and telemedicine (is what we have referred to above) resources. However, fluctuating cash flow, whether due to delayed procedures or increased expenses related to the pandemic, can make this difficult.

A B2B solution that allows businesses to purchase the supplies they need, when they need it, can help. UnLockB2B pays suppliers upfront for purchases, then implements a payment plan of up to 90 days with the buyer. With this payment gateway, healthcare providers can access the supplies they need, even during periods of slow cash flow. To learn more, contact UnLockB2B.