How Technology Improved Healthcare in Response to COVID-19

Some trends to monitor going forward

The extent of the impact of the Covid 19 Pandemic is often reported in the form of death counts, hospitalizations, or immunizations.  Political and scientific debate continues over the impact and long-term effects of the pandemic on people, health care systems and nations the world over.  

While those impacts are being debated and assessed, there are some very clear changes for the better that have already come to the U.S. Healthcare system.  I want to focus on the changes coming about as a result of technology being utilized to enable care to take place, improve safety for patients and providers and that either came about or were accelerated in response to the pandemic.  Some of these improvements may have been in existence prior to the pandemic, but there is little doubt that the acceptance and implementation of those technologies were significantly accelerated in response to the Covid-19 Crisis.  

One of mankind’s great abilities is to innovate in the face of danger, and in so doing wind up being better-off for encountering and addressing the problem.  

Look at these innovations to find positive developments happening in Healthcare Technology in 2021:

Patients Having a More Proactive Role in Their Health

Whether it is an awakening to the importance of health created by the response to and emphasis on Covid-19 or the desire to only participate in the healthcare system in the safest possible manner, Patients are more aware of the shortfalls in their healthcare programs and have insisted on improvements. In response, the market has produced: 

  • better technology wearables, 
  • improved messaging and communications 
  • self-service options, 
  • patient internet access to records, reports and test results and; 
  • expanded access to telehealth programs and visits. 

Automation and Artificial Intelligence Taking Up Expanded Role to Both Increase Efficiency and Protect Patients and Providers

First Responders and Hospital Workers were forced to deal with reducing the risks of exposure while treating victims of the pandemic.  Often, they did this with reduced staff on both the primary and support staff levels. The reduced staffing, among other considerations required a heightened awareness of the need to improve efficiency and creativity.  Sanitization procedures expanded and included in many instances implementing ultraviolet lights to sterilize rooms faster and more thoroughly than standard cleaning procedures. Thermal cameras are being used to take temperatures as opposed to thermometers or other devices which come into direct contact with the patient.  Chatbots can conduct basic administrative tasks for admissions and discharge of patients.  Service areas are being designed to be convertible as needs change and to minimize direct interaction or over-crowding.  Healthcare spaces will be provided to allow for increased use of telehealth, kiosks and other electronic or remote means of access and communication.  

Ultimately, many great improvements are coming to Healthcare (actually, to our lives in general) as a result of the response to the pandemic.  As the owner of a technology company whose focus is to solve problems for our clients, I’m proud of the way our industry has played a key role in the response to Covid-19.  It has been more than finding a temporary quick fix to a real problem.  We are seeing fast implementation of great changes for the better.  

Time, and the market, will prove which ones will be worth keeping, as-is.  Others will modify and evolve over time.  Some will disappear.  

It is also probably worth noting that a lot of solutions and changes were created and implemented in an extremely short period of time.  Since people, almost as a rule, tend to not like change, maybe some good can come from that as well.  

Maybe, just maybe, after dealing with so many changes in a short period of time, some folks will realize that change isn’t necessarily bad.  

Sometimes it needs to be sought out and then welcomed.  

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Wayne Hippo is an owner and managing partner of PS Solutions, a software development and consulting company with offices in Wilmington, NC, Altoona, PA and Pittsburgh, PA.  You can contact Wayne at whippo@pssolutions.net.

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