How a Pandemic Changed the Face of Healthcare Forever

Gargantuan Task for Global Healthcare Providers 

Some 4 years ago, we published an article about the healthcare sector, underlining the gargantuan task that lay ahead for the sector globally – With populations worldwide steadily growing older and experiencing more acute illnesses that needed to be managed, it seemed care givers worldwide had been very slow to adopt the technology that would enable faster and better care for patients.

There was also rising concern about the ability of global healthcare providers to cope with this growing phenomenon of a progressively aged population, with increasing life expectancy and serious, but manageable, illnesses.

Patient Data Silos

A major issue was the vast quantities of confidential patient data, sitting in silos which weren’t able to communicate with each other.

Governments worldwide set deadlines for healthcare records to go digital and for the mountains of patient data to be harnessed through technology, into useful insights.

Disregarding the predictably vociferous chorus of naysayers, making stark pronouncements and citing previous technology fails, collective governments were determined to push ahead with the digitalisation of healthcare – at speed!

Over the ensuing few years, we have witnessed a slow but steady increase in the adoption of digital healthcare technology, with healthcare providers seeking to improve and accelerate the steps from diagnosis through to treatment. Alongside this, we have seen a proliferation of disease prevention measures, delivered in the form of digital apps for monitoring health & fitness, reducing alcohol intake, improving diet choices etc

The Covid Effect

Fast forward to 2020 and the arrival of the Covid-19 pandemic. Healthcare services have been stretched to the limits, overloaded with Covid, victims, while still attempting to treat other serious illnesses. With the vast majority of healthcare IT systems seriously out of date and inefficient, it became very clear, early on when the pandemic hit, that rapid adoption of new, efficient technologies would be imperative to the successful handling of the global crisis.

With most in-person medical appointments cancelled to protect both staff and patients during the first Covid-19 wave, technology was rapidly adopted, with healthcare providers scrambling to implement the technology that would facilitate virtual care.

Technology Must be 'Fit for Purpose'

It is very clear though, that whilst adoption of such technology is a critical component in managing Covid-19 patients, and healthcare generally, it’s also essential that the technology is ‘fit for purpose’. What we don’t want to see, is a repeat of some of the costly, epic fails previously enacted in the sector.

As long ago as the 90s , governments worldwide, recognized that digital technology could facilitate the flexible delivery of healthcare services - including remote services where necessary - and better data provision.

Covid-19 has caused the rapid acceleration of digital transformation in the global healthcare sector, but the question, moving forward, is whether this is likely to continue once the pandemic recedes.

Embracing a New Digital Era

There is a school of thought that thinks post-Covid healthcare will be led by patients who want to see a continuation of home visits and virtual consultations. The pandemic has, in many ways, forced the hand of both clinicians and the general populace, compelling both to embrace technology.

Looking forward, with continued higher levels of adoption and greater and more widespread technology literacy, it’s likely that more patients will access medical information and advice without face-to-face contact with clinicians, meaning that risks to all parties can be minimised.

Better quality data will facilitate accurate, clinical decision making, essential research and forward planning. This will assist healthcare providers in managing demand for services –as well as managing service levels for future threats from pandemics such as Covid-19.

Unprecedented Opportunity for Software Tech Companies

Now, more than ever, as healthcare goes rapidly digital, there are many opportunities for the switched-on software tech entrepreneur to provide real value in this brave new world of healthcare. Opportunities to assist with provision of cloud services rather than enforced capital outlay, which have seen care providers waste millions, in the past, on solutions they didn’t need or which didn’t fulfil the brief required of them.

Now is the time for digital innovators to create elegant solutions that resolve real issues for healthcare providers, facilitating better patient experiences and outcomes. If this doesn’t happen, it’s only a matter of time before the shout goes up: “People are dying unnecessarily for lack of timely and accurate data!”

The Time is Now

There are no excuses. There is no going back. Pandora is well and truly out of her box and software innovators must quickly grasp the nettle (It won’t always be plain sailing) of this opportunity, for the greater good - and to lift global healthcare to the next level. Once and for all, helping to eliminate the disparities of care cause by socio-economic factors.

If there’s one thing this pandemic has demonstrated, it’s that we’re all part of a global community. All affected by this deadly virus in one way or another.

Now is the time to create a better future for all – and the software sector is the industry best placed to make this ‘brave new, post-Covid world’ a reality…

Go for it!