Could digital health be one of the best solutions to fight climate change? That’s exactly what a British Medical Association (GMA) report encourages doctors and the National Health Service (NHS) to do. The report suggests that the health care industry work towards the ambitious goal of net zero emissions by reducing its carbon footprint. This can include a wide range of options like paperless healthcare.
Various other health leaders worldwide have also called for urgent action and other steps to improve global health care. They’ve stressed that dealing with challenges like climate change and more social equality can prepare for the future. I want to share how Telehealth and Telecare options can address environmental problems like carbon emissions and global warming.
Climate Change and Global Health in the 21st Century
Many healthcare experts explain that climate change is the most significant health challenge that the planet faces in the 21st century. According to the World Health Organization, the 24th Conference of the Parties (COP24) Special Report argues that it threatens every aspect of modern society.
There are some big questions about how digital health could help. That includes issues like how it can effectively deal with the climate crisis; and how healthcare facilities, methods, and instruments could become more sustainable.
Here’s the good news: healthcare systems worldwide have several options for using technologies to combat extreme weather and rising temperatures. In fact, there are several options during the current COVID-19 outbreak and the post-pandemic future.
eHealth Tech during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Today, world regions like Europe use digital tools and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to fight the Coronavirus disease. This involves an eco-friendly approach that uses fewer natural resources due to recent waste generation and recycling statistics and produces fewer CO2 emissions.
The innovative technologies can provide several health-related benefits. They include detecting COVID-19 infections, improving intensive care, and protecting healthcare workers.
Also, the ongoing pandemic has highlighted the need to respond effectively to the global crisis. This includes methods like digital technologies, quality data, and AI analytics tools.
Green COVID-19 prevention
Reducing environmental factors like global temperatures through recycling can also help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. A caveat is scientists haven’t discovered a direct effect of climate change on the spread of coronavirus. However, they know that climate change affects how people interact with other species, and affects factors like public health and infection risk, according to Harvard University.
Experts also note that the leading causes of climate change can boost the risk of pandemics. Sustainable approaches like eHealth can help. They can reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower the risk of infectious diseases like the Novel Coronavirus disease.
Reducing Societal Inequalities
Some experts in the healthcare industry warn about society becoming significantly more unequal during the COVID-19 pandemic. This is related to the gap between the wealthy and middle and working classes. According to the BBC, statistics show that the wealth increases of the world’s 10 wealthiest people during the COVID-19 crisis cover vaccines’ costs for the entire world.
This widening gap creates a major effect on health-related issues. They include factors like healthcare access, outcomes, and life expectancy. Some healthcare experts project the climate change could cause several problems related to the coronavirus outbreak, such as heart disease, injuries, and mental health conditions.
However, digital health is often seen to provide better healthcare services to the general public. This is through eHealth services like Telecare and Telehealth. When people receive better healthcare services, it can improve their everyday health and wellbeing.
Fighting Mosquito-Borne Diseases
One practical use of digital health tech for fighting the effects of climate change deals with mosquito-borne diseases. What’s the connection? The spread of infectious diseases increases due to hotter weather conditions. For example, countries prone to dengue fever outbreaks have experienced a nearly 10% increase in dengue cases since 1950, according to the Lancet.
Digital tools can help to fight these diseases. This is by using digital tools to monitor epidemics and the spread of mosquito-borne diseases. In fact, technology can visualize data and predict disease outbreaks. For example, NASA is using satellites to predict regions where soil moisture might attract malaria-positive mosquitoes.
Meanwhile, Alphabet’s Verily has used technology to sort out mosquitoes’ sexes to reduce mosquito-borne diseases. In 2018 the Google subsidiary teamed up with Australia’s James Cook University. The tech giant provided tech for the process that released sterile mosquitoes into the wild to reduce the annoying bug’s populations.
Adding New Technologies to Healthcare
The process of digitizing health requires new technologies. Here are some that have become key tools in eHealth:
In the healthcare industry, big data can provide customized treatments and detect possible side effects and risk factors. Big data can also help to reduce the spread of infectious diseases like COVID-19.
Blockchains are a kind of database that store data differently than usual. This provides safe access to the health records of patients. Blockchain can also help drug companies make better records in pharmaceutical production.
Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT can provide a connection between the physical and digital worlds through instruments like inhalers. Other benefits include shorter wait times, lower healthcare costs, and lower risk of the wrong diagnosis.
If you hate waiting on a phone to talk to healthcare workers, then chatbots are a plus. This tool can provide faster faster-patient communication. For example, the World Health Organization (WHO) set up a chatbot channel during the latest pandemic.
Some eHealth applications of VR tech include patient rehab and treating psychological disorders.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Healthcare professionals can use AI to make better decisions and provide better medical treatments. Scientists have used AI to collect data that could improve future COVID-19 treatments.
This technology can provide more details for applications like ultrasound scans. Medical professionals have also used 3D printers during the coronavirus crisis to produce safety equipment.
Detecting/Managing Respiratory Diseases
This includes connected devices, wearables, and health sensors.
These devices can collect data then store it in a mobile device or transmit it to their doctor to monitor conditions. For example, a sensor can track real-time data and then sync it to a mobile app.
Lung Capacity Monitoring
Smartphone add-ons can help track lung capacity and irregular breathing. Patients can share data with their doctor for better asthma management.
According to the World Bank, today, people live an average of 20 years longer than in 1960. Will humans keep living longer? Technology and research through digital health will be critical for this trend to continue throughout the 21st century. This two-pronged approach has been effective in helping to contain the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year.
In fact, the eHealth industry has spiked in recent years, which includes a worldwide investment of over $14.6 billion, according to Statista. Interest in digitizing healthcare has spiked throughout the world. This makes it a possible game-changer for treating asthma, malaria, and the most significant global pandemic in modern history since the Spanish Flu: COVID-19.