The global COVID-19 infection count has surpassed two million cases worldwide, and casualties have been growing exponentially, with over 200,000 reported at the time of writing. As the global healthcare sector is going through a crisis, many limitations of the existing systems are coming up. So, there is an opportunity for healthcare experts to relook and reevaluate the existing healthcare system. We have seen several interesting use cases enabled by emerging technologies, and we expect that many of these use cases will become mainstream in the coming years. In this PoV, we discuss the overall problems getting faced by the healthcare industry and the interesting use cases it is using to fight COVID-19. This PoV will act as a guideline for service providers building their new healthcare solutions.
COVID-19 exposes weaknesses in our healthcare systems
COVID-19 has exposed the healthcare system’s weaknesses. Right now, much of healthcare’s focus is on meeting the near-term challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Beyond the current crisis, we expect regulatory and technological changes to drive major improvements in our healthcare systems. COVID-19 is making many unique problems visible that we might not have noticed under normal operating scenarios.
Some of the weakness exposed by COVID-19 are:
In the US, HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) prevents providers from communicating with patients and sharing health data with other experts. But because of COVID-19, as a part of the White House’s emergency measures to expedite COVID-19 coverage, the Department of Health and Human Services has waved HIPAA to allow for expanded telemedicine.
In Italy, the COVID-19 crisis prompted an unprecedented collaboration between public and private centers, with patients being transferred to private hospitals to help the public system cope with the high number of cases. This new scenario has highlighted the lack of interoperability between the public and private healthcare systems.
In China, there has been an unequal distribution of medical resources. The level of medical care available in an area almost directly correlates with a province’s level of development, highlighting inequality among Chinese hospitals.
A strong healthcare system will benefit everyone, and there is no better time than now to make it happen
COVID-19 has opened the door for technology advancement and progression in the healthcare system related to patient care and overall management. During this crisis, the world health system is creating new applications and technologies focusing on patient care, as described in Exhibit 1.
Exhibit 1: Patient interaction, monitoring, and disease management are driving healthcare innovations
• Remote consulting
In India : Apollo Hospitals https://www.askapollo.com/online-doctors-consultation
Quarantine Management Platform
• Remote monitoring solution
• Real-time fever tracking
• Real-time escalation alerts
• Tracking of COVID-19 lab test results
Sentinel Healthcare Announces Partnership with UT Health Austin to Launch Quarantine Management Platform for Novel Coronavirus
• Communication, talking to the patient
• Listening to the heart and lungs,
• Communicating with nursing staff
Regional Medical Center in Everett, Washington, a telemedical robot called Vici from InTouch Health, a company currently in the process of being acquired by Teladoc Health, was used with the first U.S. COVID-19 case
Ambulate patients using IoT
• Automation of equipment
Stanford Medical Center IV bags are wirelessly connected to a network and can be remotely programmed — an IV bag Internet of Things — though the system does not include the robotic changing of bags that Murphy envisions. Sensors from Leaf Healthcare are used in the Stanford hospital to prompt nursing staff to turn or ambulate patient
Tracking of disease
• Location data to track the disease
Apple and Google’s engineering teams have banded together to create a decentralized contact tracing tool that will help individuals determine whether they have been exposed to someone with COVID-19.
• Online screening tool
• Information about the disease
• Guidance on when to seek testing or emergency care
Apple launched a website and a new app dedicated to COVID-19 screening. The resources offer an online screening tool, information about the disease, and some guidance on when to seek testing or emergency care. Apple developed the site and app in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and the White House.
Source: HFS Research 2020
COVID 19 is an opportunity for service providers to use these use cases as inspiration and develop solutions and develop solutions accordingly. Some of the use cases, like telemedicine, have been around for a few years and service providers have already built solutions around them. But COVID-19 has revealed many limitations for these existing solutions, and service providers need to rethink their existing portfolio. The newer use cases remain uncharted territory for them.
The Bottom Line: Service providers should continue innovating in the healthcare space to stay relevant.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a demand for digital health technology that has resulted in a sudden increase in the implementation of solutions related to telemedicine, including using location data to track the disease. In the future, healthcare clients will ask their technology providers to come up with this type of solution as it increases both economic value and customer experience. Thus, this is an opportunity for service providers to focus on these use cases. Partnerships with emerging healthcare start-ups and medical institutions is also a viable strategy for service providers to build robust solutions and decrease the go-to-market timeline.
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