03 Aug 2020 19:54 IST

How Covid-19 has accelerated digitisation of healthcare

From virtual consultations to self-assessment online, the medical community worked fast to go digital

The global outbreak of Covid-19 caused drastic and quick changes across all industries. One of the major problems that industries instantly faced was the inability to function with a physical presence, as social distancing had to be practised strictly. And as always, people turned to technology, where the Internet allows for communication, connection and various solutions.

The medical community, specifically, had to adapt much quicker to accommodate the various problems that arose with this situation. With so many restrictions in place to curb the spread of the disease and much higher demand, healthcare companies everywhere had to act fast. This resulted in the acceleration of the digitisation of the healthcare industry in many ways. Here’s a look at how some of them have achieved this.

Virtual consultations

With the pandemic, many different needs had to be re-evaluated. The need to socialise or go outdoors could no longer be a priority. However, people still needed to see doctors as various healthcare conditions and concerns could not be treated at home. In addition to this, huge portions of populations everywhere were reporting symptoms of Covid-19 that could not go unchecked. This is why virtual consultations quickly became a reality across practices. These consultations permit patients to speak to doctors online, be it over chat, a phone call, or even video. And all these varying forms of communication enable patients to consult with doctors based on whether their symptoms needed physical examination or not.

Self-assessment tools online

Many of the symptoms of Covid-19 resemble that of the common cold or flu. This made it quite difficult to discern the condition of a patient. And with a growing number of people complaining of these symptoms, it would not be easy to address each individual. For this reason, various Covid-19 risk assessment tools appeared online which use artificial intelligence to ask comprehensive questions about the types, severity and duration of symptoms. Alongside this, the tools use data provided by the user about their travel history, the number of cases around them, and other relevant factors to provide an extremely informed analysis on what steps should be taken next.

Booking tests online

For those who presented symptoms of any condition, whether it was the likes of thyroid problems, pregnancy, diabetes, or Covid-19, lab tests were required to arrive at a proper, informed medical diagnosis. Since people could no longer go to clinics and diagnostic labs themselves, the healthcare industry brought pathology to our very doorsteps. While this has been made possible by different and various companies, this has become a much more common trend now in order to reach conclusive results without putting people in harm’s way.

Cloud computing

Many people have a family doctor or a regular medical practitioner whose clinic they frequent for advice when it is required. This is quite advantageous as the doctor typically has the complete medical history, understands the patient’s records, and can work in accordance with this. This is also a significant factor which helps to build trust for any patient as this gives them the assurance that their case will be treated with an informed understanding. With AI, limitless data and storage, and various interfaces and software, moving patient data online has become another major trend in healthcare. This enables doctors and patients to store all patient history on a secure server, which can be accessed and viewed by the doctor in charge of treating the patient. This is revolutionary because it also permits doctors from different specialities to better understand a patient with their past records, lab results, x-rays, prescriptions and more.

Thus it is clear that the rapid digitisation of this industry has resulted in a wide array of tools and resources that can be availed from the comfort of one’s home. These not only help combat the problems that these unprecedented times pose, but help pave the path to more accessible, affordable and efficient healthcare for all.