Virtual technologies are poised to transform healthcare landscape
The healthcare industry has always been at the forefront of technological advancements. Whether it is using AI and machine learning or robotic surgery, the sector is continuously transforming. The onset of COVID-19 has further driven healthcare towards innovation, giving the rise of virtual care and enabling health systems around the world to leverage new-age technologies. Telemedicine is already in use in the healthcare sector over the last few years, allowing patients to consult with their doctors remotely or without visiting healthcare centers.
In a recent survey by the Association of Community Health Plans, nearly 90 percent of consumers who used telehealth for accessing care were satisfied with their experience. In the time of COVID-19, telemedicine is perceived as an effective tool. For instance, in the response to the pandemic, the Shandong provincial government and the Shandong Health Committee established an Anti-epidemic Expert Group to formulate diagnosis, treatment, quarantine, and reporting protocols. The expert group, in the management of coronavirus patients, comprehensively utilized all professional platforms, including telemedicine to connect patients, experts, and information.
Using telemedicine platforms provided prevention and treatment guidance, training, communication, and remote consulting for the community residents and medical staff. In this way, the expert group found the telemedicine platform to play a considerable role in controlling the epidemic in the Shandong province.
Thanks to its 27/7 availability, telemedicine is now gaining rapid momentum across public and private healthcare systems. In India, many governments, hospitals, online pharmacy providers, and even corporate have turned to telemedicine for their employee wellness. On March 25, the Board of Governors in supersession of the Medical Council of India (MCI) issued Telemedicine Practice Guidelines to bolster delivery in a post-pandemic world, with a focus on Health and Wellness Centres (HWCs) that provide preventive and primary healthcare within a 5 km radius at the grassroots level. These guidelines have driven the surge in teleconsultations that will continue to rise.
COVID-19 and Digital Healthcare
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, like any other industry, the healthcare sector is also capitalizing on digital technologies. It has paved ways for digital health in the policy and public discourse, with people significantly looking at a large number of wearable gadgets, mobile health platforms, robotics, sensors, and EHRs, among others.
As China was the first country hit by the epidemic outbreak, the country has taken considerable steps, introduced a wide array of digital solutions throughout various stages of the outbreak. In early February, the National Health Commission released a notice for health authorities at all levels to reinforce the use of digital solutions in their response to COVID-19, in conjunction with ministers across sectors and existing service providers.
With increasing demand and supply of digital technologies, industry experts see an enormous spike in the digital health market worldwide.
The Era of Contactless Healthcare
A majority of digital healthcare service providers across the world are already analyzing capacities and avenues to bring new, digital evidence-based technologies, developing diagnostic and telemedicine tools, fitness apps and data-driven software.
Recently, Celkon, a mobile handset producer in India, divulged a range of contactless healthcare products to fight against COVID-19. Unveiled by Telangana’s industries secretary Jayesh Ranjan, the products range from automatic wall-mountable sanitizer and automatic portable spray sanitizer, to infrared thermometer and face recognition thermometer, among others. The contactless products also include modern ultraviolet light-enabled sterilizers, wireless charging disinfection boxes for disinfecting personal items, aerial disinfection equipment, electrostatic spray guns and more.
Along with this, a Bengaluru startup Turtle Shell Technologies has also come up with a contactless health monitoring device called Dozee, which it claimed to monitor heartbeat, respiration, sleep, stress and other vitals with medical-grade accuracy.
So, as in one side, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused every aspect of life and business, on the other side, it has brought the need of advanced technological tools and innovation. In the areas of public health, medicine and wellness, it has opened the way for innovation of cutting-edge technologies, not only during this time but also for the post-pandemic world.