The approach taken by different countries was fascinating to observe as the Far East, particularly South Korea and Singapore, introduced very technologically advanced digital solutions for contact tracking and also used tests on a large scale. Differences in Europe have also emerged in the approach between countries where Germany has the highest test rate and the largest number of ventilated beds (and just as critical the trained, experienced workforce to support and deploy them), which may result in lower mortality rates.
It is also becoming clearer that the impact on COVID-19 on health and care systems goes beyond the disease it causes, as health systems somehow have to cope with existing levels of non-communicable diseases. This is a tremendous challenge because, in too many cases, the systems cannot handle the volume of patients in need of COVID-19 care, even if no other calls related to cardiovascular, pulmonary and metabolic diseases and cancer have occurred.
The effects vary from country to country, but there are some patterns. For example, primary care has long held the promise that issues such as access and care could be digitally provided, but to date the scale of actual digital acceptance has been disappointing and the aspirations we all had regarding digital transformation have had to the reality of slower adoption speeds than expected is alleviated. This could change, and the 2020s could not only be remembered as the age of COVID-19, but also as the age when digital transformation grew up and became a mainstream solution.
History also teaches us that it is difficult to “put the ghost back in the bottle” once it is released, and the challenges of a declining and aging workforce and consumer pressures make the COVID-19 era very unlikely the era will be similar before the COVID-19 era.
The impact of COVID-19 on digital healthcare delivery solutions has been and continues to be significant and is accelerating as fast as COVID-19 is moving around the world. In view of this new world according to COVID-19, they can therefore be viewed as follows:
- Linked directly to the epidemic
There are many lessons to be learned from the use of technology in public health surveillance, from linking data in Sentinel laboratories to developing technological solutions to instantly link tests at different geographic locations to gain insight into their prevalence
Some countries, such as South Korea, have developed the use of smartphone technology to improve the management of contacts with exceptional results.
From a health care perspective, it has been shown that problems such as central dashboards for better management of bed availability and care in hospital environments significantly improve efficient bed utilization, as some systems in Germany show.
The use of telemedicine for direct patient care in emergencies in the area of public health has been described in detail. A key strategy to control healthcare surges in patients suspected of COVID-19 is to triage forward for patients before they go to the emergency room. Using a digital first approach to access could do this with a personalization and consistency that we couldn’t otherwise deliver. There are many examples in the United States that use personalized online screening and already deliver it.
The potential for Telemedicine is only limited by our imagination. From providing better disaster planning solutions, for example, in a scenario where an entire healthcare workforce is quarantined after infection or exposure and can then be deployed digitally from home, to better care for affected patients through dynamic ones Remote communication with them on a scale and in real time, regardless of their geographic location.
- As a result of the epidemic
The post-COVID world is likely to be remembered as the time when care with other medical interactions, such as providing primary care or treating non-communicable diseases, was switched to digital modalities as a standard rather than an exception. This new post-COVID-19 era will likely enable all of the other technologies we’ve celebrated, such as AI-related insights and the potential 5G offers us in terms of the Internet of Things, all in a variety from areas growing together paths. We see this in real time and at a pace that we could never have imagined. In England, primary care on a large scale has finally started to deal with telemedicine and has introduced a new digital first way to manage the streaming of care to the appropriate place. A few weeks ago, this would have gone beyond the limits of the possible.
We have a lot to do. We need to include adequate and sound governance in the delivery of these new modalities, and we also need to include sound clinical decision support in our deployments, as a rule, not as an exception.
Our scope and scope of our challenges are changing. We have promoted the introduction of digital transformation and this must continue. We now also need to help our members overcome the complexity of governance and support clinical decisions.
The other significant change that’s already accelerating is the introduction of precision health in both personalized and predictive public health, but also in the use of digital technologies to empower people to better manage themselves with non-communicable diseases.
In addition, we need to understand that this new health and care world will look very different from the world we are used to, but it is likely that by adopting these new digital modalities in care for people, we will be closer to delivery what is our mission at HIMSS is to provide better care for everyone everywhere.
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