The COVID-19 pandemic has brought unexpected attention to digital healthcare, revealing new insights into how virtual care can affect the situation around the world. How can we accurately analyze tests and imaging? What’s the protocol for patient-doctor meetings? What can we do with early diagnosis? Keep reading to find out.
New digital healthcare technologies are being developed every day. But the COVID-19 pandemic has brought with it a whole new level of technological collaboration. The results are just over the horizon and we’re already feeling some of the effects.
So which of the trends made their mark in 2019 and which will get stronger thanks to the Coronavirus Crisis? Here are a few that stand out:
A Forbes review of digital health technologies in 2019 claims that AI (Artificial Intelligence) will be one of the major players. It can be used to minimize errors, streamline treatment processes, and reduce workloads. For example, radiologists often spend hours intensively analyzing diagnostic imaging. Long hours and tight schedules can lead to incorrect diagnoses. AI algorithms can be the key to increasing productivity, supporting faster analysis, and even improving accuracy.
According to analyst Mary Meeker’s annual report, we should expect to see monumental growth for telemedicine in the coming year. The transition to video consultations is just the beginning of this new era. The COVID-19 pandemic reminded us all that remote medical care can help patients stay healthy and that not every consultation needs to be face-to-face.
Virtual consultations don’t just benefit patients. They also offer significant benefits when it comes to efficient clinic management and even high-quality care:
Remote healthcare stretches the boundaries that had limited clinics’ growth by allowing doctors to reach patients who don’t live nearby and to treat them during unconventional hours. With virtual consultations, clinics can rethink the traditional business model and customize it to better meet the unique needs of every doctor and community.
With virtual care, chronically-ill patients can update their doctors without leaving home to visit the clinic. Doctors can monitor patient conditions more consistently and refine treatments as needed. This is particularly valuable for older patients. As it becomes easier for patients to comply with doctors’ instructions, their response to treatment is stronger.
Consistent remote monitoring can help prevent deterioration of patient health and keep medical conditions from becoming more severe.
Virtual treatment can reduce no-shows and lower the number of patients who cancel appointments at the last minute.
This emerging global trend is gaining momentum in Israel as well. Today, a variety of digital clinic management platforms allow encrypted medical data to be transferred securely. With this new development, selected digital healthcare systems have been approved by Israel’s Ministry of Health for collecting, encrypting, and sharing medical data between healthcare professionals as needed.
VDoc is one example. VDoc was developed to help doctors adapt to the changing healthcare landscape, giving them the tools to provide comprehensive treatment, even for patients who can’t come into the clinic. The system allows doctors to transform traditional clinics to hybrid clinics, with virtual treatment that fully integrates with their existing consultation schedules.
With VDoc, doctors can see patients far away, share files in real-time, interface with an advanced scheduling system, process payments securely, and manage appointments conveniently and efficiently. The platform also integrates completely with all of Israel’s national health networks.
For years, the medical community has been debating the best way to access patients’ medical information.
In Israel, the national health networks store patient information digitally, such that all doctors in the network have patients’ medical histories at their fingertips, including for patients who already in the diagnosis or treatment stages.
The two reports quoted above demonstrate that we can expect patient data to become accessible to hospitals in the future as well so that the entire health system will have the same comprehensive information.
As information becomes more accessible to the medical professionals who need it, the diagnosis and treatment processes will become faster and more efficient.
The field of sophisticated testing is developing rapidly and we already have tests that provide immediate results.
For example, in 2018 Sight Diagnostics announced that they were developing blood tests that could yield answers in real-time. Initially, the company was working on instant malaria diagnosis and eventually expanded its focus to blood count methods.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for immediate diagnosis has gained more attention than ever. Abbot Laboratories was the first to get FDA approval for its test, which diagnoses COVID-19 within five minutes.
Real-time diagnostics could play an important role in a huge range of medical situations. In the case of COVID-19, it would allow infected people to be quarantined faster and help slow the virus’ spread.
However, a lot of the fast diagnostic tests already on the market still aren’t available to most doctors. Real-time diagnosis is a field whose achievements largely lags behind its potential. Many more tests still need to be developed before doctors can diagnose a wide variety of conditions in real-time.