How Coronavirus Is Changing Healthcare Employment

PUBLISHED: December 14, 2020

We keep talking about life returning to normal after coronavirus. But is that possible? Can what was normal prior to March 2020 be recaptured? Perhaps in some areas, but not all. Health Jobs Nationwide suggests that healthcare employment is one example of an industry not likely to ever get back to the normal of a year ago.

Doctors Leaving Healthcare

One of the more noticeable impacts of coronavirus on healthcare employment is observed in the loss of doctors. According to data cited by Medpage Today, growing numbers of doctors are looking at career changes or choosing to retire early as a result of coronavirus.

One doctor quoted by Medpage Today says that, at 73, he is not willing to risk his life to continue practicing as a gastroenterologist. His sentiments are shared by employed doctors across the country. But even private practice owners are having second thoughts.

Imagine being a private practice owner and having to worry about your own health as well as that of your staff. The pressure of working under the threat of coronavirus is enough to make any private practice owner rethink his or her business strategy. Many are apparently choosing to retire early.

Fewer Elective Procedures

We found out just how much elective medicine drives our healthcare industry when lockdowns began in spring 2020. And even though elective medicine has resumed in most places, it is still nowhere near the levels it was at when lockdowns began. In a nutshell, some people are still afraid to have elective procedures done.

This can be an ongoing problem as we face what appears to be the start of the second wave. It could eventually lead to an overall drop in elective medicine for years to come. And if that happens, it will reshape the healthcare employment landscape for years. Fewer elective procedures mean fewer jobs for certain types of doctors, nurses, and allied health professionals.

allied health professionals

The Rise of Telemedicine

Telemedicine was an outlier in the medical industry prior to the start of the coronavirus crisis. Though the technology was there to offer telemedicine services, clinicians and hospitals weren’t going for it. They preferred the in-person model the industry relied on for generations. Then shutdowns began.

It did not take long for Washington to relax rules so that Medicare and Medicaid patients could visit with their doctors online. In fact, bureaucrats started pushing telemedicine to help control the spread of the virus. Where are we some eight months later? Telemedicine has exploded.

According to Forbes, dermatology is just one example. Some 37% of dermatologists offered telemedicine in 2017. As of July 2020, the number is now at 80%. As Forbes contributor Tonya Akim phrased it, “once on the steady decline, brick-and-mortar has now been obliterated by the pandemic.”

On-Demand Medicine, Too

Not only has telemedicine exploded, so has the concept of on-demand medicine. What is the difference? What we would consider traditional medicine follows the same model. You have a primary care physician that you work with for most of your needs; you seek out specialists when necessary. With the on-demand model, you do not have a primary care physician.

On-demand medicine is the healthcare version of ride sharing. Consumers download an app on their smartphones. When they need to see a doctor, they open the app and make a request. Either a doctor agrees to meet with them right away or an appointment is scheduled for a later date and time.

It is clear that healthcare employment is changing. Much of the change we are now seeing is a direct result of the coronavirus crisis. Should we expect anything different?

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