What will healthcare be like after Covid-19)? What MUST healthcare be like after this pandemic?
The time for reform is now, if not yesterday
We thought we had a “system”
Prior to COVID-19, most areas’ public health systems were good… on paper.
Surveillance, testing, treating: we have protocolized and professionalized processes. But along came a fast-moving, global pandemic. And with it, the painful realization that our systems were demonstrably unable to cope, react and adapt to new realities.
Even without a global pandemic, the economics around public health were already perverse. Healthcare delivery is essentially a function of health insurance coverage, which relates to employment. Indeed, just one look at recent unemployment numbers is enough to realize that the approach is not pandemic-proof. Another weakness has become glaringly obvious recently. Concretely, the situation of workers we deem “essential” (and who we count on to support society during moments of stress). These workers are underpaid and overworked. Now that COVID-19 has come into play, nurses, delivery people, store clerks, etc., have become frontline workers. And they assume the task of saving lives while risking their own.
Protecting means predicting
Protecting those workers, and preventing pandemics from spinning out of control, requires more than just staying inside. We also need to do a better job tracking, treating, and testing cases. Crucially, we need to improve our early outbreak detection methods. Thus, we need prediction capabilities on where an outbreak might occur before confirming it happens. And for this, we need to enlist tech, particularly information technologies (IT). Firstly, IT have the power to scale quickly. Secondly IT allows health systems to interact with citizens in a way that doesn’t require physical proximity.
This pandemic has the power of pushing along efforts. Namely, to close gaps between health delivery needs and technology. Additionally, IT can minimize risk to front-line workers (by people not practicing social distancing). And above all, satisfying society’s demands for immediate access to diagnostic tools. We need specific tech implementations to close this gap. For instance, an app or a website where patients can track and report their symptoms from disease onset through recovery.
Healthcare During Covid – Reducing unnecessary face-to-face interaction
Telehealth, telecare, and telemedicine are not new concepts in the medical world. But this pandemic has made clear that they are not just a novelty, or a cost-saving mechanism. They are a means by which we reconcile social distancing (a crucial disease control measure) with healthcare.
Solutions must enhance close interactions between patients and their providers with messaging functionalities and virtual appointments readily available. The key is providing patients with access to care anytime, anywhere.
With this integrative system, providers and patient care teams get the appropriate analytics to monitor patients from afar, intervening only if necessary.
Remote healthcare tech can reduce healthcare professionals’ burnout. This respite results from the reduced need for physical presence in the hospital on the one hand. And by avoiding redundant administrative tasks on the other. Above all, healthcare staff can focus more than ever on caring for their patients.
Beyond slowing the spread of any infectious disease, remote healthcare will support patients and providers. In other words, the migration of healthcare migrating to the safe environment of patients’ homes will provide much-needed peace of mind.
Time to get off the fence – Can Healthcare Leave Covid Enhanced?
Although having gone through extensive research and trials, they either still sit awkwardly on the fence between idea and execution or have not yet gone the actual distance. Perhaps the human/face-to-face interaction factor of medicine has hindered this progression in people’s receptiveness to change. Understandably, you’d feel safer putting your care in the hands of somebody you visit in a standardized hospital or clinic setting. In contrast, tapping through screens outputting a plethora of information, half of which you are not interested in, hardly seems reassuring.
The current stay-at-home and self-quarantine orders hit a “pause” button on our lives. Therefore, individuals have started to reconsider their healthcare options to further align with their conveniences. And there is a tremendous unmet need to improve safety for the general population. In return, remote healthcare received a much-needed dose of motivation to progress for the better. So healthcare is finally about to turn a new page with the help of technological innovations.
With technology being the future and healthcare being an essential part of our daily lives, it only makes sense for these efforts to unite, equipping the health system with necessary armor against all diseases of any severity. It is crucial that healthcare systems leave the covid pandemic more robust than ever.