There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our world.

The virus has changed the way we live, the way we learn, and the way we work. However, perhaps no industry has been more impacted by the pandemic than healthcare.

Both the severity of the virus and the speed at which it raced across the globe forced healthcare providers and systems the world over to innovate with lightning rapidity in order to save as many lives as possible.

Now, as we begin to slowly emerge from the shadow of the pandemic and reconstruct our lives in the face of the new post-pandemic normal, the healthcare industry is seeking to redefine itself.

As promising as this bright new day of healthcare may be, however, it does not mean managing your career and reputation in the midst of such technological change will necessarily come easily. This article explores strategies to help you navigate this brave new world of healthcare innovation.

Making Informed Decisions

As a healthcare provider, you’ve dedicated your life to helping people through some of life’s most important, and often its most difficult, moments. However, providing patient care today may look far different than it did when you first began practicing. You may find, for example, that your employer may now be prioritizing telemedicine over traditional face-to-face patient care.

For healthcare providers, this significant shift in the way patient care is delivered means that you enjoy an unprecedented opportunity to design the healthcare career that you want. For example, you may determine that your greatest interest lies in unleashing the power of virtual care to reach previously underserved populations, such as the elderly, patients with disabilities, minorities, or those who live in rural areas. Such a determination may then lead you to pursue advanced training with a particular emphasis on telemedicine and community health.  

The key, above all, is to consider this moment of change as an invaluable time to pause, take stock, and decide on what you want your career path to look like moving forward. Consider how the scope of work is expanding with the ascendancy of novel healthcare technologies. Different decision-making models, such as the consensus approach and Kepner-Tregoe matrix, can help you define your priorities and integrate informed, rational assessment with creative exploration when it comes to deciding what the next step in your career should be.

The Human and the Machine

Now more than ever, healthcare is both an art and science. Indeed, tech innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) systems, the Internet of Things, and Big Data are reshaping the diagnostic and therapeutic planning processes. With the use of these technologies, healthcare providers have nearly instantaneous access to a patient’s records as well as billions of data points that can be used to increase the accuracy of diagnosis and the efficacy of the treatment regime.

What this means is not only that the empirical standard of care can be optimized through rapid, data-driven decision-making, but so too can the patient experience be greatly enhanced. Thanks to AI-driven healthcare analytics, for instance, clinicians are required to spend less time researching the patient’s background or exploring treatment options and more time delivering hands-on care and cultivating the trust, empathy, and rapport that are so essential to the patient/healthcare provider relationship.

Look Before You Leap

As essential as these new technologies may be for delivering exceptional patient care in an evolving industry, it’s imperative that practitioners don’t attempt to reinvent the wheel. Not every innovation is a good innovation. Just because a technology is new and promising does not always mean that it is appropriate for your patients or practice.

If you want to maintain your reputation for providing consistently exceptional patient care, then you may do well to embrace an incremental innovation approach. Instead of radically transforming your practice all at once, you use a strategic, paced strategy — ideally one that is crafted in collaboration with your patients. 

This might include, for instance, using informal, in-office interviews and patient surveys to assess patients’ interest in various forms of innovation. You might inquire about your patients’ preferences for care delivery. Do your patients prefer to be seen in the physical office or would they prefer to be assessed through video conferencing when possible? These patient impressions are important to the success of your practice and career.

Ensuring that your tech innovations align with the needs and interests of your patients, your staff, and your business is the only real way to assure that the tech doesn’t end up doing more harm than good. Strike a proper balance between industry inspiration and healthcare essentials in your personal and professional use of new tech.

The Takeaway

Technological innovation and healthcare have often worked hand in glove. However, the pace of healthcare innovation has perhaps never been greater than it is today. For healthcare providers, this means that self-reflection and careful deliberation will be required to manage your career effectively and secure your reputation as a healthcare provider in these quickly evolving times.

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