How Covid-19 Spurred Smarter, More Accessible Healthcare
How Covid-19 Spurred Smarter, More Accessible Healthcare
The Future of Healthcare and Why Going Digital Is the Answer
Healthcare is the latest industry to experience a sudden, spectacular merging of technology and business. Know the reasons why healthcare services going online is more than just a trend.
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the healthcare industry ran into an enormous challenge in trying to figure out how to help people without being able to actually see them in person. The smart response to these challenges was to take a more innovative approach towards serving their clients through the development of digital technology. What resulted was a boom in online tools never before seen in the industry.
Some experts believe that the necessity for better online healthcare services helped spur “10 years of innovation in 10 weeks”, as companies offered patients faster, better, and safer solutions thanks to an increased focus on digitalization.
This digital-centric approach has forged a new trend in online healthcare that is reaping great benefits for both companies and patients in terms of more efficient care and lower costs.
Healthcare Services as they were, and how they will be
Healthcare is an absolute giant of an industry. The annual expenditure of healthcare worldwide is a whopping $8 trillion, including $3.5 trillion spent in the USA and $2 trillion in Europe alone1.
As gargantuan as these numbers may be, costs are continuing to rise due to trends like worldwide aging populations, the lengthy treatment of chronic diseases and increasing drug costs. At the same time, patients are faced with receiving lesser outcomes, coupled with increased direct (out-of-pocket & insurance) and indirect (tax & copayment) costs. This leaves a hole in the market for a smarter, more economical approach to offering and receiving quality care, something which was compounded and put into focus due to Covid-19.
Due to the complexity of regulations, the administration of healthcare has generally been slower to adapt over the past several decades compared to many other industries, such as e-commerce and Fintech. However now with new technologies and regulatory approvals allowing an increased use of virtual care, we are seeing a greater use of innovation that is leading a big shift in how healthcare is offered.
Examples of this innovation can already be seen across numerous sectors, including enabling tech for healthcare providers, screening & diagnostic tests for patients done remotely, on-demand & generalist care (telemedicine), online mental health services and elderly care and more.
Let’s take a look at some of the companies that are at the forefront of this evolution to provide healthcare solutions online.
Innovators for Digital Healthcare
Current Health (USA) - Remote Patient Monitoring and Telehealth Platform
Current Health’s mission is to deliver healthcare outside of the hospital. They are fulfilling the future of healthcare, which they believe will be virtual, patient-centric and available 24/7.
To accomplish their goals, they have combined software, hardware and intelligence with an AI-powered data-first approach.
Current Health has developed the smallest, all-in-one, FDA-cleared wearable on the market, which allows for continuous, passive monitoring of patients’ vital signs, such as respiration rate, oxygen saturation, mobility & step count, pulse rate and temperature.
- Using this biosensor, doctors are able to monitor and track patient’s activity at all times.
- Next, their platform analyzes the data to detect and predict health deterioration, while using artificial intelligence (AI) to also utilize case and population-matched data and trends over time. This is combined with patients’ reported symptoms.
- Lastly, using their integrated virtual video visits, healthcare professionals are able to review, assess and treat patients outside of the hospital at any time.
In 2020, Current Health partnered with the Mayo Clinic for remote coronavirus patient monitoring, as their technology has the potential to identify COVID-19 and predict symptom and disease severity early on.
With great features such as a five minute setup for patients to get started, more than 100 already developed disease-specific programs and around-the-clock technical support and client monitoring, Current Health’s impact is already showing tremendous results.
Biloba (FR) - On-Demand Pediatrics
Benjamin Hardy, CEO of the French company Biloba, believes that the popular new trend of medical consultation by video is not quite the revolutionary time-saving advancement in healthcare that some people describe it as. He believes consultation via instant messaging can be the way of the future.
“Anything that can be done with video telemedicine can also be done with instant messaging. But the way that doctors use their time is very different”, Hardy wrote in his Medium article. “A doctor who can conduct five video teleconsultations per hour can handle four or five times as many patients with instant messaging.”
Biloba believes this method can lighten the burden on the healthcare system as a whole, while providing a more efficient solution for both clients and medical care professionals. Through the service a nurse or doctor is ready to help offer medical advice through chat, can receive photos to help assess a medical issue, and Biloba claims the entire process can typically be done start to finish in less than 10 minutes.
Prescriptions can be issued straight after a consultation and are accepted by all pharmacies in France thanks to verification from their partner, Ordoclic.
Biloba offers an unlimited number of consultations with membership packages that start from €12.99 per month. This unlimited number of consultations should help offer users preventative care that doctor’s visits cannot, giving patients yet another advantage in achieving better health.
98point6 (USA) - On-demand, Text-based Primary Care
Consumers today expect convenience in all aspects of their lives, including health care. The mission of 98point6 is to make primary care more accessible and affordable, encouraging early and frequent use. They aim to achieve this with a number of services, including private and secure text-based care via a mobile app, and unlimited access to consultations, diagnosis, treatment, ordering of labs and prescriptions, follow-ups and reminders. Their membership-based model removes the financial burden of accessing care early, while leading patients towards value-based care.
Their technological approach combines machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) with the expertise of board-certified doctors to optimize the patient experience as much as possible. Doctors do not have to ask questions, gather patient history or follow up mechanically - the technology does it for them. Patient profiles are built automatically, with the system learning more with every visit. 98point6 is drastically reducing the cost of care delivery, while passing these savings onto their customers.
MindLabs (UK) - Mental Health
While the average person today realizes the fundamental importance of staying physically fit, more people than ever before are beginning to focus on the importance of maintaining their mental health, as well.
It's no surprise that the pandemic has caused a spike in people affected by psychological issues such as depression, burnout, and stress.). As a result, more companies are now developing solutions to try to meet the needs of people in search of mental health assistance.
MindLabs is the world's first live mental health platform which combines hardware and software. Via their platform, users can get access to live videos from world-class therapists with live workouts to help de-stress and relax, such as breathing exercises and meditation. Meanwhile, their wearable “Halo” is a device which monitors heart and respiratory rate statistics and muscle tension, and helps the platform to make personalized lesson offerings or suggestions to connect with a therapist, if necessary. At the moment, MindLabs’ focus is on the app, which is in beta testing, with the wearable “Halo” coming afterwards.
These companies are helping lead the way to bring innovation to the healthcare industry. The question for other companies involved in healthcare is not whether or not to focus their services more on digital, it’s “what exactly are you waiting for?”
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