The Coronavirus has meant remote consultancy is no longer a “nice idea”, it’s essential to the future of global healthcare
A coronavirus is tiny. You can fit a thousand of them in the thickness of a sheet of paper. Yet its impact on the world is huge. Every single news platform, social media feed and radio phone-in is full of information, misinformation, facts and guesses. It’s an invisible threat, yet the changes it is forcing on our everyday lives show that it is a very real, clear and present danger — one maybe, that is finally, the wake up call to the monolithic healthcare ideas that are still common currency across the globe.
Healthcare largely ignored the spread of Sars in 2003, and paid little attention to the flu pandemic of 2009. Ebola shook up some governments’ thinking, but many of the initiatives created to combat its spread, were subsequently stripped back as cost cutting exercises when the immediate threat receded.
Now though, this tiny virus is causing big problems, meaning governments have to throw billions at ‘best-guess’ solutions for the public — whilst industries like aviation saying it needs huge rescue packages to protect jobs and other reliant industries. Meanwhile everyday activity is being hugely disrupted, with whole countries effectively having to shut themselves off from the world — and at a personal level, people are effectively under lock down for weeks or months, shut away from their families and neighbours.
One thing is consistent across all these problem though, healthcare infrastructure was not equipped to deal with such a sea-change in the public health situation, for instance, in reality, the US doesn’t even have public health infrastructure.
Big questions, but where are the answers?
Ultimately, fundamental questions are being left unanswered.
How do you see ‘regular’ patients at a surgery when you cannot allow congregations of people at a single location? How can ‘front line’ response teams function when its people are exposing themselves to the very thing they are trying to prevent — making them a potential prime conduit to spread the infection? How can expertise, advice and supplies be delivered around a country, when people simply cannot move freely around any more?
“The ubiquitous smartphone has joined up the world in ways never seen before, and the powerful technology you can place in an app, means speaking to your doctor can go way beyond a simple phone call”
It’s human nature to react to an immediate danger, rather than plan to avoid it in the first place. Any doctor will tell you prevention is better than cure, but if this is the case, why does so little of healthcare planning look to head-off problems, instead deciding to simply react and meet them head-on?
When you look at the logistical and statistical headache of trying to combat the Coronavirus, it’s obvious that by not spending millions, healthcare networks now need billions to kick start a reactive response.
One positive to focus on, is that the tools to help combat these devastating situations are already in place — and Vpod has been a champion of putting the crucial connectivity of experts and the people that need them, literally in people’s hands. The ubiquitous smartphone has “joined up” the world in ways never seen before, and the powerful technology you can place in an app means when a patient speaks to their doctor, the conversation can go way beyond a simple phone call.
Vpod can help make a patients’ journey and experience very different — into something truly personal and powerful. From automating appointments at surgeries, a lot less sitting around with groups of people — to making remote consultation as easy as a phone call, with no waiting times and no centralisation of resources. Vpod uses tech to free up your advisors do what they do best, help people.
The future is now
The current crisis has shown that healthcare needs to move away from the slow-moving and reactive crisis-centric thinking that has dominated for decades — with digital cloud connections, clinics can not only protect their health workers, but extend their reach into the community in powerful and effective ways — and by maximising digital health tools, routine processes like pharmacy distribution, record management and remote testing can all be streamlined, freeing up staff resourcing.
It also means you can keep all but the most crucial appointments out of clinics and hospitals, and if you can cut out those, that means the need to travel to appointments is also removed, something that the current crisis shows is invaluable.
Getting the right tech in your healthcare process can free up your experts, protect your patients and ultimately keep healthcare personal, whatever the pressures are in the global and local situation.
The little Covid-19 virus is proof the time for big changes is now.