Since we’re all in the confinements of our homes, only allowed out for exercise, grocery shopping, and work, all non-essential activities have been prohibited, including non-essential medical, surgical and dental procedures. With COVID-19 occupying the majority of medical attention, it’s become increasingly clear that healthcare systems must incorporate technologies to provide services like remote consulting, wearable monitors and full digitisation if future challenges are to be handled accordingly.
There already exists smart devices that can help with self-diagnosis and even home care such as checking temperature and oxygen levels, Skype health appointments, digital disease surveillance and more. These are exactly the sorts of technology that would improve the efficiency of the healthcare system, especially with issues such as chronic and age-related diseases.
In a recent report made by the Australian Academy of Technology & Engineering, after year-long observations of the current healthcare system, four recommendations of necessary changes were made, including:
- switching to electronic health records as soon as possible;
- using telehealth and mobile technology to improve access;
- supporting and empowering healthcare workers to retrain, adapt and develop skills to use new digital technologies; and
- targeted government support for translating medical research and preparing it to get where it’s needed – to patients.
With these four changes, the Coronavirus pandemic may have been dealt with in a completely different way.
How would technology help healthcare?
“Governments and the medical community would have been able to identify and monitor cases in real-time, using advanced data analysis to identify disease outbreaks by looking for spikes in the reporting of symptoms,” said ATSE President, Professor Hugh Bradlow FTSE.
Data could be used to not only predict pandemics but also target appropriate quarantining measures, and allocate medical resources for diagnosis and treatment. With Telehealth, people would not even have to leave their homes in order to get diagnosed, which would limit the spreading of the virus.
Where does the transformation start?
At the start of this transformation lies the digitisation of all health records. Full integration of digital records into the health system which would provide GPs, hospitals, home care, rehabilitation and aged-care providers with access to any and all required records which would only “make the jobs of our healthcare workers easier, not harder,” added Professor Bradlow.