The end of 2021 is looming, and it’s time to think about everything that has happened in healthcare over the past year in addition to COVID-19.
As the COVID-19 pandemic changes the way care is delivered, Amazon has begun to expand its health offerings this year from Alexa to COVID-19 tests.
The Alexa voice assistant that you might know as a great way to set a timer or start your playlist is now progressing into health systems and elder care.
In summer 2021, Amazon launched the direct-to-consumer COVID-19 test for U.S. consumers.
Wearables have been shaping the healthcare industry in 2021, attracting the major tech players like Apple, Google, and Samsung. Consumers started spending more time at home during the pandemic, and many were using wearable devices to monitor their health and seek treatment.
In 2021, Americans report a growing struggle to pay for healthcare and increasing concerns about inequities and access in the U.S. healthcare system. Healthcare costs are among the main worries of Americans.
These issues are not necessarily new, but the degree to which they have been increased by the pandemic has reached an all-time high since, according to measurements by West Health and Gallup. “Nearly one-third of Americans report not seeking treatment for a health problem in the prior three months due to its cost — a percentage that has tripled since March.”
2021 has been a particularly challenging year for healthcare data breaches, “with incidents taking down networks for weeks at a time, leading to care disruptions. 40,099,751 individuals’ records have been affected by exposures reported to the federal government by mid of November 2021.”
This year, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) provided an updated clarification to its health breach notification final rule to ensure third party apps are covered and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) extended the comment period for its Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) revision proposed rule.
Interoperability has been making some substantial progress this year. “2021 has been a particularly notable year for U.S. efforts toward more widespread and seamless data flow,” according to Jay Nakashima, executive director of eHealth Exchange. He also sees “big progress with 21st century Cures Act compliance, TEFCA, data quality, FHIR adoption and information exchange among providers, public health agencies and labs.”
The Cures Act’s information blocking provision, which went into full effect on April 5, 2021, initiated new thinking, new practices, and changes in 2021.
The COVID-19 public health emergency has been a major wakeup call for the healthcare industry. It has revealed the many shortcomings — as well as the changes that must be initiated to do a better job of keeping people healthy.
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