Pandemic-related news has been a large part of the news cycle storyline for 2021. For many Americans, this has been emotionally exhausting, confusing, and frustrating. However, even with some of the not-so-great, there’s been a lot of amazing. As we enter 2022, we want to remember some of the positive healthcare news that has come out of 2021. We’re breaking down three “healthcare happies” that we hope will continue to set the stage for improved healthcare.  

Multiple bills have been introduced to improve healthcare access.

Several pieces of bipartisan legislation have been developed that are specifically designed to increase the care access of vulnerable populations. The Improving Seniors’ Timely Access to Care Act of 2021 aims to require the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to improve the way Medicare Advantage plans use prior authorization, which can be a barrier for individuals with chronic conditions. Another piece of legislation, the Mental Health Access Improvement Act of 2021 addresses mental health care gaps for seniors by expanding the network of mental and behavioral health providers for Medicare beneficiaries. Finally, CMS has announced new actions that expand access to telehealth services and diabetes prevention programs.

As a result of COVID-19, groundbreaking innovations have been developed.

While COVID-19 has turned the world upside down for nearly two years, it has also resulted in some amazing innovations. The development of effective vaccines and boosters has saved approximately 1.1 million lives and prevented more than 10.3 million additional COVID-19 hospitalizations, according to the Commonwealth FundAt-home testing kits, while possessing limitations, have also led to improvements in test access and efficiency. Further, FDA-approved treatments have been introduced for patients with COVID-19 who need hospitalization. These developments have been a journey for individuals and organizations across the globe, however, we’re witnessing some incredible moments in history. 

Due to digital innovation, the focus on a more accessible patient experience is seeing substantial movement.

Healthcare has evolved far past the traditional confines of a clinic or hospital. Now, the focus on a connected, accessible care experience has seen more growth than ever before. According to BDO’s 2021 Healthcare Digital Transformation survey, 75% identified telehealth as an area of investment compared to 42% in 2020. Further, 81% of healthcare executives in Accenture’s 2021 Digital Health Technology Vision said the digital transformation of their organization was accelerating.  These adoptions are leading to direct improvements for patients. In mid-2021, one in four individuals said their care access had actually improved due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It goes without saying that none of these huge accomplishments would have been possible without the tireless work of healthcare workers, scientists, policymakers, and administrators. We’re also proud of the incredible movements made by healthcare innovators and disrupters. While 2021 has definitely come with baggage, we’re optimistic that 2022 is heading in the right direction.