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It’s been an eventful four years.

In the spring of 2024, it’s hard not to think of how far we’ve come—and not come—since the terrifying spring of 2020.

If you’ve been having deja vu with the rising global nervousness about H5N1, you wouldn’t be alone.

Don’t worry, I’m not here to speculate about bird flu quite yet. What I’m keeping an eye out for as we reflect on year four with COVID is the healthcare business trends the pandemic ushered in. I’d like to take a closer look at how many of them have and haven’t panned out.

One of the biggest pandemic-era healthcare boons has undoubtedly been the proliferation of telehealth. Greater access to specialists, lower wait times to speak with a provider, and many creative new digital health solutions have all come from our greater acceptance of this new approach to healthcare. 

On one hand, telehealth appears poised to stay. American healthcare accreditation bodies are offering best practices for virtual care, indicating investment in continued telehealth quality. At the same time, U.S. lawmakers are signaling they’re unlikely to extend telehealth flexibility in 2024. 

Will the golden age of telehealth end too soon? Hopefully not, given how patients and providers continue to benefit.

Another significant pandemic-era healthcare business trend has been the growth of retail health. As retailers like CVS and Walgreens took the lead in early COVID vaccine distribution, analysts assumed that consumer comfort with this healthcare environment would engender a new era of primary care.

Chart: MedTech Pulse
Chart: MedTech Pulse

Now, with recent headlines about Walmart closing its retail health arm, Walmart Health, due to high operating costs and staff shortages, that optimism may be dashed. However, some experts are still bullish on retail clinics.

One of my favorite questions that we ask our Pulse Check interviewees each time is about the trend they missed or underestimated in our industry. Each time, it reveals that, while many of us are experts in what we do, we can’t help but misjudge at times—to be surprised by the twists and turns around the corner. 

That’s why staying nimble and open-minded—but also focused on our respective north stars—is a crucial balance for us medical innovators to strike. I for one am excited to see which trends I’ll have missed when we look back again in the next four years.

Hadi Saleh

Hadi’s Reflections

Dr. Hadi Saleh is CEO of CeramTec, a leading provider of advanced ceramics for medical applications. He is driven by the idea of embracing technology for the benefit of human life.


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