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The World's Health In 2021


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As 2021 starts to take shape, we deemed it the appropriate time to take a look at the trends that are likely to unfold throughout the rest of the year, both in regards to global medical insurance and the health care sector as a whole. These trends will affect everybody, from patients to business owners. Of course, COVID-19 has been a major health and life factor throughout 2020, but we will take a look at some trends that do not involve the pandemic as well. 


Can you envisage yourself using a mobile phone app for health care as opposed to visiting a doctor? This is something that more and more people have been doing as of late! Are you planning to reassess your policy benefits throughout the year? If so, you are not alone. This is just a hint at some of the most likely trends. Keeping that in mind, let’s take a look at what we can expect to witness and experience the rest of the year…


The rise of health care related digital tools and services


We live in a day and age that is very much dominated by the digital experience. The health insurance industry has to follow suit and 2021 is assured to be the year that we see more digital tools and services. This will affect all areas of the industry, from GP practises to global health insurance providers. In order to deliver the best standard of service, digitally enabled care and services are a must. This will make the whole industry much more efficient, whether it’s because of better office software, social media experience or telemedicine. Consumers will be able to gain more information from the comfort of their own home, by using their smartphone or computer. This will benefit the industry immensely, because it will reduce the number of in-office appointments. A study conducted by PriceWaterhouseCooper revealed that 75 percent of doctors said they would prescribe an app to help patients manage chronic diseases, whilst 50 per cent said that e-visits could replace more than 10 percent of in-office patient appointments. Therefore, we can certainly expect to see the rise of DIY health care throughout the remainder of the year. There is no denying that a lot of patients have had to have phone consultations during the pandemic because of social distancing measures. However, the health care sector has traditionally lacked behind when it comes to efficient and innovative use of technology. We are going to see a lot of businesses rushing to play catch-up throughout 2021 as they try to deliver an efficient and effective method of health care via smartphones. 


Will we see a baby boom?


One thing that a lot of experts are predicting is that we will see a boom in the number of babies that are born in 2021. While this is rather speculative, since the lockdown measures were announced around the world, a lot of people have been talking about whether or not this would result in an increase in the number of women who fall pregnant. Whether or not this is the case, there is no denying that it has been a difficult time for pregnant women. A lot of females have had to give birth alone due to the restrictions in place. The Internet has also proven to be a fountain of knowledge for new parents who would typically attend baby groups and support classes. From newborn bath frequency to sleeping habits, parents are having to turn to the Internet to get the answers they need. You can also use the web to join forums and connect with other parents so that you do not feel so alone during this difficult time. You will be able to ask questions and connect with parents who are going through the same emotions and problems that you are.


New class of healthcare shoppers


Consumers are making smarter decisions when it comes to choosing their international health insurance plans. A lot of consumers are price sensitive and thus are really assessing what they truly need from their policy. Many have discovered that less can be more, so long as they conduct their research effectively and make sure their policy is tailored to suit them. Policyholders are getting much more from their plans than ever before because they are making more education decisions. With this new wave of healthcare shoppers comes an increased demand for more knowledge and transparency. Global health insurance providers that do not operate in this manner are going to find it increasingly difficult to compete. Again, the internet has played a large role when it comes to the emergence of this trend. We have more information available to us than ever before, and we are putting it to good use to make smart purchasing decisions. This is something that we are seeing across many industries, not just in the healthcare sector. Plus, the rise of review websites and comparison sites have meant that people can easily compare different services and policies against one and other so that they can find the best one for them. 


Data security


Health care providers and international medical insurance companies are expected to invest a considerable amount of money in data security services this year. Nowadays, no company is immune from the threat of a data breach, and unfortunately the health sector is frequently one of the main targets. The health care industry as a whole has been warned that their security systems are inefficient when compared with other sectors. Companies recognise that there is an urgent need to invest in this area. This is especially the case when you consider the rise of mobile Internet use and such like. It is becoming increasingly difficult to manage security across various platforms. However, the need is huge. From penetration testing to sophisticated bespoke security set-ups, companies will be going a long way to protect their clients and employees’ sensitive information. 


Mandatory international health insurance


Throughout 2020 we witnessed a lot of countries making the move that saw expats required to take out a global medical insurance plan if they were to have access to the health system in the country. This is a step a lot of countries have taken over recent years in order to lower government expenditures, including Qatar, Turkey, Dubai and France. We can certainly expect other nations to follow suit in 2021, or at least propose plans for something similar. This highlights why it is advisable to take out a worldwide health insurance plan before you relocate, no matter where in the world you are moving. As the rules and regulations become more complex, it is more vital than ever before to be protected.


E-prescriptions


This is something we have already started to see and it will only become more and more popular as the year continues. What is E-prescribing? This is essentially a technology framework that gives physicians the ability to write and send prescriptions to a pharmacy electronically. This eliminates the need of having to write out a prescription. There are many benefits associated with this. Not only is it more efficient, but also it actually reduces the number of legibility issues and increases prescription accuracy. This is definitely a trend that shows no signs of slowing down.


Strain on state-funded systems


This is not a new trend. It’s a continuation of something we are already witnessing in a lot of countries. The demand on state-funded health systems is increasing by the day in many nations around the world. This is largely because of an ageing population, but there are other influencing factors. Take the UK as a prime example. The increasing obesity issue places further demands on the health care industry. Because of this, there is a huge strain on fully funded state-based healthcare systems. Not only is this leading people to take out private insurance polices in order to benefit from a better level of care, but governments will be taking active steps to try and reduce this issue. As mentioned earlier, one move a lot of countries have made is to enforce private medical insurance for all expats. Of course, it goes without saying that the pandemic has also had a massive impact on state healthcare. In a lot of countries, like the UK, routine appointments and operations have been postponed while COVID patients are prioritized. This has meant that cancer sufferers and patients with other conditions are often missing out on the treatment they need. It is a worrying time, but hopefully, the vaccination can help things to get under control and normality can resume.


All in all, from digital health care to more sophisticated data security, this is a glimpse at some of the main trends we can expect to witness throughout the year ahead. It is vital to be mindful of this, as some of these points will undoubtedly affect you, especially the rise of digital care. Look out for new apps and other digital introductions that are likely to enhance the industry.


Photo by Anna Shvets from Pexels




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