2020 has been a year where healthcare professionals (HCPs) have been front and center in the public eye, at a time when their expertise and hard work is more important than ever. Whilst vaccine rollouts have begun for the most vulnerable groups, it is clear that 2021 is another year where healthcare practitioners will play a vital role. In this way, an understanding of HCPs’ perspectives coming into this new year will also be invaluable for anyone involved in the healthcare industry, especially those looking for novel ways to support healthcare practitioners at this demanding time. Here, we will look at 5 themes popping up again and again on HCP social media, to get a sense of what they anticipate for 2021:
What HCPs are planning for in 2021:
- Getting vaccinated!
- Communicating with the public
- Preparing for the worst
- Leaving Medicine?
- Continuing to lead research
One anxiety expressed by many HCPs during the pandemic has been their own exposure to the virus, and how this might contribute to the spreading of the disease. This worry is understandable; after all, HCPs, particularly nurses and primary care practitioners, interact frequently with patients from vulnerable groups. This is why many have expressed relief that they will be able to treat patients in 2021 without risk of causing more harm than good. Some have extended this logic towards other non-HCP essential workers.
Communicating with the public
2020 saw HCPs on social media step up to the plate when it came to public communication, counteracting the effect of misinformation and ever-changing COVID-19 restrictions. For the new year, HCPs are already anticipating the efforts they will need to make for 2021. Many HCPs expect that they will have to correct the public’s behaviour as COVID-19 restrictions continue to be necessary. This particularly feeds into the aforementioned worry that HCPs are in threat of exposure to the virus.
Communication with the public is not wholly limited to words of warning, however: HCPs from different therapy areas have found ways to contribute using their expertise.
Preparing for the worst
HCPs have had an authoritative voice during this pandemic, though there has also been a huge increase in the demands made of healthcare services, which they have not always been best equipped to handle. It is important for those wishing to support HCPs to recognise that this pressure continues to exacerbate the strain on these services and their employees. Particularly in the US, many prominent HCPs expressed pessimism about the coming months. Many expressed despair at how the pandemic was affecting all patients requiring treatment. Whilst specific reasons may vary, it is undeniable that HCPs are bracing themselves for 2021.
A related topic that comes up frequently is how this strain might be causing HCPs to leave medicine, particularly in the US. Some have noted that the pandemic has also had an effect on the financial solvency of practices in the US, causing even more HCPs to leave the industry through no fault of their own, and reducing society’s treatment capacity in a vicious circle that makes an adequate response to the pandemic even harder. Others have made efforts to explain these decisions from the HCP perspective.
I’m going to say more tomorrow. But I’ll leave this for now: During a pandemic, our country is LOSING doctors who can’t remain financially solvent. It is nonsensical and yet all too true. https://t.co/QeSFH1R8Zm
— R. Liu MD 🩺🛼🌻🌲🏳️🌈 (@rliumd) January 5, 2021
Continuing to lead research
There are some HCPs who indicate there will be a strong research emphasis in 2021; HCPs continue to look forward to expanding treatment horizons, managing and improving remote care, and advocating for their fellow HCPs. With many challenges and problems to solve in 2021, one thing HCPs have certainly already started doing is looking for sustainable solutions.
Understanding 2020 in hindsight for a forward-thinking 2021
HCPs have substantive plans for 2021; what we’ve shown here could be called a mixed-bag of anticipation. 2020 was hard on everyone, but more so for those who have been keeping us safe during this pandemic. More than ever, those who wish to support HCPs at this time (whether it be through resources or encouragement) can benefit from the HCP perspective, and more than ever as HCPs become more vocal public communicators can these perspectives be accessed online through social media. If you would like to find out more, we’d love to help.