During the COVID19 pandemic, the need for digital and technological capabilities grew immensely in the healthcare industry. With hospitals and clinics heavily focused on caring for patients with the coronavirus, virtual, and digital monitoring to care for all other patients became the norm. While the crisis has certainly taken a huge toll on the healthcare system as a whole, there is no denying that it has accelerated some significant advancements in healthcare technology in ways that are set to make a huge impact in the future.
The Importance of Digital Interactions:
In an era of social distancing and virtual connections, the way that consumers interacted with all companies began to significantly shift. Customers are now placing more value than ever before on the digital experience, and the same is true for healthcare settings. Many healthcare establishments now offer a ‘digital front door’, which is now viewed as the first impression that potential patients have of the care and services that they offer. Now more than ever, healthcare companies have an acute understanding of just how important the online experience is when it comes to their reputation. This could include the healthcare establishment’s website, mobile application, patient portal, telehealth visits, online information, and education for patients.
More Use of Predictive Analytics:
For the healthcare system, one of the main things that the COVID19 pandemic highlighted was the importance of being able to look ahead and make sure that potential future crises are adequately prepared for. Healthcare professionals quickly learned that spikes in the coronavirus infections had the potential to suddenly overwhelm hospitals and other healthcare environments and lead to significant shortages of equipment and medication. As a result, healthcare professionals have been at the forefront of new and innovative methods to predict the location and severity of upcoming COVID19 infection increases. Nationwide, hospitals have come up with new predictive analytic tools designed to forecast future surges in COVID19 cases and ensure that they are well-prepared.
Patients Using Telehealth:
At the beginning of the pandemic, local governments across the US began to issue stay-at-home orders and other social distancing guidelines to reduce unnecessary interactions and subsequently reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus. As a result of this, telehealth was no longer an optional extra, but rather an absolutely essential part of providing good patient care. As patients experiencing non-COVID19 symptoms began to worry about the risks of visiting the ER or making an appointment with their doctor, telehealth ensured that every patient was able to get the medical care and advice that they needed, even from the safety and comfort of their own home. Relaxed regulations allowed many hospitals and healthcare companies to quickly launch extensive telehealth programs quickly, and HHS allowed providers to make use of programs like Zoom and FaceTime to conduct virtual appointments with patients to cover a wide range of conditions from check-ups and medication follow-ups to urgent care. Software from Chartspan allows healthcare professionals to conduct a virtual Annual Wellness Visit with sick patients, providing them with additional protection from the virus.
Business Intelligence and Analytics to Predict Surges:
Across the US, healthcare systems are making an increased number of strategic investments in business intelligence analytics in an attempt to get a better understanding of their patients and provide more customized patient care. These systems are designed to leverage data-driven insights to make better decisions on behalf of patients in the future, using operational, clinical, and financial data alongside feedback from patients to get a clearer picture of the ways in which patients interact with their healthcare provider. Business intelligence is now increasingly used by healthcare professionals to coordinate treatment plans based on symptoms, easily identify patients that are in need of follow-up care and keep better track of readmission rates along with using the data to reduce them.
Robotics to Treat Patients:
Due to the infectious nature of the coronavirus, the pandemic forced healthcare professionals to keep in-person contact with patients to a minimum as much as possible. This led to healthcare systems reimagining the way that they interacted with patients and many have turned to robotic technology as a means of treating patients from a safe distance in order to reduce the spread of COVID19. For example, some hospitals have used video robots to transmit videos to doctors inside the emergency room, while other hospitals have been using robots to deliver fresh bedlinen, protective gear, and even food to patients during a hospital stay. Some robots are used to allow healthcare professionals to communicate with patients without having to enter the room.
AI Chatbots for Patient Communication:
During the COVID19 pandemic, the public experienced a much greater need than usual for reliable information, education, and direction in terms of healthcare. And with the time of healthcare professionals more precious than ever during the crisis, we have seen an increase in the use of artificial intelligence chatbots used to provide essential communication to patients and assist them in a time of greater-than-usual demand for healthcare information. Using machine processing to assist and provide education to patients about COVID19 and other healthcare issues during the pandemic allowed healthcare providers to more effectively reach and meet the needs of patients.
Contact Tracing Technology:
Around the world, contact tracing has become the norm as governments and healthcare systems try to keep up with who patients have been in touch with infected people, in order to alert them to their risk and provide instructions to reduce the spread of COVID19. Data tracking technologies have advanced significantly as a way to enhance traditional analog contact tracing programs. An interoperable API developed jointly by Apple and Google allows health agencies and governments to better track the spread of COVID19 using Bluetooth technology, quickly alerting individuals to the situation if they have been in close contact with somebody who has tested positive.
The COVID19 pandemic may have changed our lives as we know it for the time being with social distancing guidelines and lockdowns in place around the world. But in the healthcare industry, it has caused an upsurge in new technologies and techniques designed to provide better patient care in times of uncertainty and beyond.