Following nearly two years of ongoing unpredictability, it’s difficult to make any concrete estimates of what will happen in the healthcare sector in 2022.

Some think this may be the year where things will turn a corner for healthcare, and there are certainly bright spots on the horizon, such as the rise in consumer spending and M&A transactions.

After looking back on 2021, predictions for next year become clearer: healthcare organizations will focus resources on supply chain overhauls, digital advancement and improving the patient experience.

New Supply Chain Solutions
The healthcare supply chain challenges that began in 2020 with the pandemic carried into this year. Providers are still experiencing shortages for critical supplies like aluminum crutches, CT scanners and nitrile gloves.

For 2022, healthcare companies will continue to prioritize building resilient supply chains through new solutions such as automation and expanded inventory facilities.

According to the Colliers Healthcare Summer Report, increasing automation in the supply chain can decrease the risk of human error and “reduce the amount of time that frontline staff spend on supply chain management, thereby freeing up more time to treat patients.”

Additionally, it is likely that we will see an increase of healthcare systems expanding their warehouse and logistics capabilities in 2022 as an added measure to build-up inventory. In one example of what may be a bigger trend, Delaware’s ChistianaCare is investing $25.6 million in renovating a 187,000-square-foot distribution property which will quadruple its existing warehouse space.

Data Gathering and Security
With healthcare’s digital acceleration over the last two years, there is a premium on data. Unlocking secure and accessible data allows organizations greater operational visibility, enhances preventative care measures and helps patients track their medical records efficiently.

Big data in the healthcare market is expected to reach $34.27 billion by 2022, according to new projections, and encompasses information stored in electronic health records, wearable device trackers and more.

However maintaining privacy for health records will remain a top challenge – and priority – for healthcare systems looking to integrate more sophisticated data collection as 2021 was a year strife with major cyber security attacks.

“2022 will be a pivotal year for making healthcare data help and not hinder the bigger goal of delivering the best care everywhere,” per Dutch information services company Wolters Kluwer.

Improving Patient Experience
A consumer-centric approach will become increasingly important in 2022 as consolidation is expected to rise and healthcare delivery leans toward hybrid virtual and in-person touchpoints.

Data integration and interoperability are crucial as digital tools such as telemedicine and online portals are utilized as part of a patient’s care plan. According to Managed Healthcare Executive, “there is a need for patient navigation across in-person and virtual care solutions, in such areas as clinical and data integration, and challenges with appropriate reimbursement; cost-sharing; and policy barriers.”

The physical care environment is another aspect of the patient experience health systems will prioritize in 2022. Design trends that the  2021 AIA Healthcare Design winners heavily featured were elements such as ample green space, flexible modules and reimagined common areas – all factors that add to a patient’s visit and will likely be at the forefront for renovations and developments in the coming year.

In 2022, healthcare delivery will progressively evolve as the sector continues its emergence from the pandemic and focuses on deploying innovative solutions and technologies that improve the care for all.