Things started out a little rough, but 2021 seems to be the year of cautious optimism for the return of life as we knew it.

Despite the struggles, the pandemic has been a catalyst for positive changes in the way we live, work, and learn. A lot of bad stuff has happened in the past year, but here are four things COVID did that weren’t completely awful:

Telehealth is Hotter than Ever

The Health Research Institute reported that 5% of the US population utilized Telehealth for the first time during the pandemic. Even better, over 80% saying they were likely to use it again.

The medical community has struggled for nearly a decade to increase awareness about the benefits of Telehealth services. Though it wasn’t the most ideal circumstances, the pandemic has finally gotten us over the hump.

Telehealth isn’t just a means of social distancing. It expands healthcare access to rural and underserved populations, increases quality of care, and averages less than half the price of in-office visits. In the Workers’ Compensation industry, the expansion of telemedicine programs has prevented the pandemic from interrupting the recovery of injured workers thanks to the utilization of telerehab and virtual physical therapy.

We’ve Opened up the Discussion About Mental Health

Among the many guidelines, the CDC released to help people navigate the coronavirus pandemic, one of the more surprising focuses was maintaining mental wellbeing.

It seems nearly impossible to have endured the past year without experiencing feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, or loneliness. In response, leaders in politics, public health, and big tech have become more vocal about the need to address the US mental health crisis.

In the same vein as telemedicine, the unprecedented demand for mental health care resulted in some of the most impressive — and affordable — booms in digital behavioral health support. But there doesn’t seem to be a bust on the horizon as investors continue to put millions into digital behavioral health startups. There is growing hope that these companies will be the solution for widely accessible psychological and psychiatric care. 

Resources for Professional Development Increased Tenfold

2020 was the year of the webinar. You could find one on just about anything. With everyone stuck at home, it seemed like educational opportunities were coming out of the woodworks. Suddenly, you didn’t need to go to night school, travel to conferences, or buy a master class to further your professional skills. For the most part, the increase in online content has been a marketing effort. But we’ll likely see the trend continue as companies look to content creation as a means of building relationships with customers.

A Record Number of Pets Were Adopted From Shelters

Unrelated to the medical and insurance fields, but undoubtedly the best thing to arise from this terrible year was the record-breaking number of pet adoptions. Shelters and rescue organizations across the US experienced website crashes due to application overflows and an unprecedented shortage of pets. Even more heartwarming were the stories about people stepping up to foster animals when shelters faced difficult decisions due to closure orders. A lot of us suffered in 2020, but, thankfully, dogs did not.