Anyone who’s has been paying attention to the healthcare sector over the past few years is aware that the industry is going through an exceedingly rough period. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, healthcare facilities were already struggling with record-high demand for medical services, staffing issues, and spiraling costs.
Although home healthcare insurance helped facilities deal with some of these issues, many were pushed close to the breaking point. And then, of course, the pandemic came and threw the world into chaos, with the entire healthcare industry along with it.
Even now, COVID retains its stranglehold on much of the world, and it seems a long way before it eases up. This brings us to the present, as we now face an uncertain year ahead.
Clearly, there will be a continuing need for healthcare services, and the demand for higher quality and lower cost will place an even bigger burden on care professionals.
But what does the rest of the year have in store for the healthcare sector in general? What can we look forward to in 2022?
In a nutshell, we can expect nurse practitioners to remain at the forefront of the most significant healthcare concerns. As expected, the demand will increase sharply over the coming months, and communities in which patients have direct access to nurse practitioners will have a distinct advantage in terms of better health.
Four major healthcare trends to expect in 2022
Here are some of the most significant factors that will shape healthcare in the coming year:
1. Increased demand for NPS
In the next ten years, NPs will be at the top of the list of the fastest-growing jobs in the healthcare sector. This was announced by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, which predicted the profession’s growth rate at over 45% in the coming years. Altogether, the 325,000-plus licensed NPs in the country handle more than a billion patient visits every year.
2. Direct NPS access to ensure better overall health outcomes
It might seem fairly obvious, but health outcomes will be much more favorable in states that allow patients direct access to NP services. This was supported by the United Health Foundation’s findings, which ranked the healthiest states in the U.S. in 2021.
Unsurprisingly, the 24 healthiest states were those that allowed direct NP access. These states also gave NPs full authority to practice their profession in accordance with their training and education. Conversely, the least-healthy states were those with restricted patient access to NP services.
3. Primary care access faces continuing challenges
As might be expected, primary care will continue to face new and existing challenges in the absence of meaningful changes to the system. In particular, millions of people in the U.S. will continue to struggle with the inability to get primary care. The situation will be much worse in rural areas, as revealed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
4. NPs will remain at the forefront of COVID-19 treatment and prevention
Also no surprise, NPs will continue to play a crucial role in the ongoing battle against COVID-19. As the pandemic continues to be a major threat in many parts of the world, expect even greater reliance on NPs for treatment and vaccination.
A note on Opioid Use Disorder (OUD)
Apart from the trends mentioned above, Opioid Use Disorder (OUD) will be a significant factor that will require increased focus and attention from the collective healthcare community. OUD cases increased considerably during the past two years of the pandemic, highlighting the crucial role that NPs will play in addressing the issue.
In the second quarter of 2021, as many as 22,000 NPs received DEA authorization to prescribe medication-assisted treatment (MAT) to OUD patients. This figure represents a two-fold increase in the number of MAT-authorized NPs since 2019.
In the coming year, expect the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP) to ramp up the call for state legislators to update antiquated laws. There will also be increased lobbying to allow easier access to MAT from qualified NPs.
As we approach the close of Q1 of 2022, it is apparent that the demand for quality healthcare will only increase as the months go by. This belief is supported by no less than AANP’s April N. Kapu.
For the association’s president, the coming year will see NPs continuing to deliver medical care services in almost every setting, from homes to hospitals and clinics, and even in virtual spaces via telehealth. Kapu also expects NPs to play a major role in the fight against COVID-19 while dealing with other urgent healthcare concerns.
About Caitlin Morgan
Caitlin Morgan specializes in insuring assisted living facilities and nursing homes and can assist you in providing insurance and risk management services for this niche market. Give us a call to learn more about our programs at (877) 226-1027.