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Impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the digital healthcare industry

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Сoronavirus has caused considerable changes in every sphere of our everyday life. Since its outbreak in Wuhan province (PRC), its fast and deadly trail causes thousands of infected and badly injured daily. In an interview with the New York Times, World Health Organization (WHO) official Dr. Bruce Aylward stated that the response to the heavily contagious disease boosts online digital health care development due to the social distancing and the necessity of social transformation. The NHS officials in the UK equally call the GP surgeons to carry online consulting to mitigate risks while the only exclusion is blood tests. Consequently, virus transmission and the steadily growing amount of the infected results in the higher intensity of the digital healthcare solutions to provide the best possible distant care. Overall, the major features of the changing health care can be outlined through the artificial intelligence use, big data analytics, the Internet of things (IoT), telemedicine, and virtual\mixed reality means for distant surgeries and robotics.

COVID-19 pandemic accelerates digital health reforms

Vincent Grasso, the IPsoft lead in global healthcare, noted that human labor currently should be fastened to meet new demand on resources while the AI applications can suit this optimizing best. Internet of Things (IoT) removes the inaccessibility of qualified health care in any country or part of the world as your health is monitored through the Apple Watch while you contact your physician with Skype calls. The growth in the partnership of the NHS with Amazon, Microsoft, and Palantir boosts not only the knowledge databases on diseases and their treatment but also allocate hospital beds and medical staff. Thus, AI helps to stratify patients through the biomarkers to define their state or health and the disease severity, as LEK Consulting official Clay Heskett informs. British patients are currently kept and monitored by Google’s artificial intelligence project, DeepMind. Despite certain legal concerns as for the patient’s privacy the underlying benefit of helping the anonymous patients can serve as a definite achievement.

Was COVID-19 a push to healthcare’s digital revolution?

Covid-19 is an unprecedented push to the health care digital revolution not only because of the social distancing. Tech companies might currently contribute to the efficient quarantine facilitation due to the data collection of the patients and provide the proper advice on their quarantine status. In the US, Congress lifted provisions for telemedicine in rural areas due to their distance from the large cities and certain resource strain. The major emphasis is made on the increasing role of robotic engineering, the use of chatbots, voice assistants such as Cortana and Siri, and IR monitoring to the shared responsibility of a patient and a doctor. Still, the minimizing of social contacts was the main push to the health care digitizing as video\phone consulting and remote exams have been introduced. In this way, the spreading of the virus between medical personnel has been minimized to an acceptable amount. On the other side, up to 97% of the patients from 16 to 49 are currently using digital healthcare consulting services to avoid personal visits to the hospitals, a report from NHS Wales sustains. What is more, 25% of the patients improve their daily health with the use of more than 97,000 health and fitness apps in Apple and Google Store.

How the COVID-19 pandemic is reshaping digital healthcare?

In general, both patients and providers benefit from the healthcare transformation during the COVID pandemic. Thus, the patients gain fuller information on their health without any limitation of access to expert analysis. While the patients gain complete and apparent info on their state of health and the best suitable solutions, the equally sensitive data can be hidden from their medical cards and remain heavily private. In their turn, providers have both higher adherence to the HIPAA regulations and make sure that their help is targeted and knowledgeable. Invasive cameras along with sensor-filled devices prevent the medical staff from the risky personal contact with the patients while still providing full possible monitoring to the clients through Care@Home, LCL Digital suggests. The latter remains a concern for the legal experts warning against the “med-surveillance” state as too much sensible healthcare data is downloaded to the cloud services, becoming available to the megacorporations worldwide.

Healthcare of the future: a renewed focus in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Overall, the medicine and AI came into close contact due to the COVD-19 pandemic and intensified data exchange between the EU participants. The healthcare solutions all over the world still aim at approving a growing amount of digital health therapies, e.g., the “digital pill”, a sensor-laden chemotherapy drug to monitor the drug regimen of the patient. Additionally, the FDA currently overviews Pear, the US technology to support people with addiction and insomnia issues. The research of Apple and Johnson & Johnson runs to clinically trial Apple Watch for the atrial fibrillation. The VR education company Medical Realities has been steadily growing since 2016, as the surgical procedures in VR are expected to be implemented more and more often due to the social distancing. “Digital-first” health care is forecasted to grow, according to the MobiHealthNews official, Dr. Charles Alessi, as the primary care consultations rate is boosting within the coronavirus’s recent outbreak in the UK. Symptoms’ logging, admission, and reporting will be further investigated by EHR systems. The major features of the shifting digital healthcare focus are the overall electronic health records, personalized health records of the patients through the AI and IoT, electronic prescriptions, and their self-monitoring and general privacy of the medical records that become a matter of the patients’ themselves.

Conclusion

Apparently, the COVID-19 pandemic heavily reshapes modern healthcare moving it from p2p into the digital age. Apart from social distancing, the necessity of the rapid provision of the best possible care results in the boost of development in medicine-related AI and gadgets. While not all the legal experts are totally sure of the patient’s data, the majority of the individuals gladly accept contact-free consulting with their physicians and solely monitor their state of health with gadgets and monitoring apps. While the COVID pandemic cannot be observed as a sole reason for the healthcare digital transformation, as that process has begun much earlier, its specialties and current reality definitely served as the best opportunity for the digital health care boosting and the VR technology implementations in the surgeries of the highest priority.

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