The Covid-19 pandemic has spread to over eighty countries in a few short weeks and infected more than a hundred thousand people. In this time, many healthcare organisations have been actively encouraging the public to adopt the use of digital healthcare services.
Governmental health bodies around the world have been preparing for this type of pandemic since the early days of SARS in 2002, and all countries are working to help contain the spread of Covid-19 by improving access to guidelines, testing and expert advice.
Digital health platforms come in many forms from online doctor consults to AI-driven diagnosis apps, digital epidemiology tools, EHR guidance tools, chatbot helpers and more. All these innovations and many more are coming to the forefront to fight the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Here is a look at some leading services and collaborations taking place around the world today.
There are a shortage of doctors in China with the World Health Organization reporting 1.8 doctors per 1,000 people, compared to 2.5 per 1,000 people in the USA. The rise of digital healthcare services in China aims to fill this service gap. Some of the leading digital healthcare providers making an impact in this space are virtual doctor consult services such as Ping an Good Doctor, Chunyu Yisheng and WeDoctor.
China is also adopting the use of connected healthcare devices to fight Covid-19. Shanghai Public Health Clinical Center (SPHCC) has partnered with VivaLNK, a California-based medical wearable solution provider to provide continuous temperature sensors to curb the spread of coronavirus in China. VivaLNK’s temperature sensors are applied directly onto the patient, enabling real-time monitoring of changes to body temperature.
On a national level, the Chinese government recently released an app to help citizens check whether they came into contact with the Covid-19 virus. The app collects data and provides advice to the public. The app has been made accessible through QR code collaborations with popular platforms like WeChat and Alipay.
President Donald Trump’s spending bill lifted telehealth restrictions for Medicare and leaders in the healthcare industry widely welcomed this. Large digital healthcare companies have seen an uptick of about 11% in the use of telemedicine in the first few weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic. In Washington State, one of the hardest hit by the virus, the University of Washington runs a telemedicine service called the Virtual Clinic, for which they have temporarily waived their fee.
The CDC, Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins and many other top facilities in the USA are providing online information and tracking tools, as are many research institutes such as Our World in Data (from Johns Hopkins) and COVID-19 Info Live.
Boston Children’s Hospital is the pioneer behind Healthmap, a digital epidemiology tool that has been tracking the spread of Covid-19 from the onset. They have teamed up with Buoy Health, a healthcare chatbot that helps people interpret symptoms into suggestions on the level of care they might need. Collaborations of this kind are helping tackle Coronavirus fears on social media and the broader internet by routing people to the right place of care.
Other popular digital telemedicine providers include Zipnosis, Hale Health, American Well, Teladoc, Careclix, GYANT (uses AI and chatbots, high patient ratings), SnapMD for paediatrics, ICliniq for ex-pats and Psyalive for mental health care.
Israel’s Sheba Medical Center was ranked 9th best hospital in the world in Newsweek’s 2020 rankings and has been using advanced robotics and telemedicine to diagnose and perform tests on quarantined patients carrying multiple diagnoses. One example is using a robot to take the vital signs of a patient inside an isolated room. A robot is sent inside the patient room and is controlled by physicians and nurses from the outside.
Rishi Sunak, the British chancellor, recently announced the 2020 budget for the UK and made a clear commitment to tackle the spread of Covid-19:
The NHS (National Health Service) launched the NHS 111 online tool at the end of February to assist patients with quick advice. The tool routes patient enquiries to the appropriate services in all parts of the country. Up to 35,000 patients have accessed the tool per day, and the NHS has since invested another £1.7 million to supplement the online tool with telephonic advice for patients.
GP’s around the country have been encouraged to make use of video conferencing tools to prevent patients and in some cases, staff members from visiting medical practices. Communicating information telephonically is being encouraged wherever possible. This is a crucial preventative measure to keep all patients and medical personnel safe from catching or spreading the Covid-19 virus.
Babylon Health UK and Push Doctor are popular digital healthcare services in the UK for telemedicine consultations. Both offer video conferencing via your phone, tablet or laptop and a variety of additional services, some free and others via subscription. Other organisations include LIVI, Doctorcare Anywhere and Vitality GP.
Digital healthcare platforms are coming into the public eye at this critical time of need, each serving the universal purpose of improving human lives through access to quality healthcare.
If you are a healthcare organisation pioneering digital strategies to improve patient lives, get in touch to share your story with Medical Travel Market.