Healthcare workers are more likely to contract Covid-19 than other people. Studies show that those who work directly with patients are particularly at risk. That is why they must be specially protected, and one way to do that is to introduce more telemedical opportunities for them to practice. In many countries globally, telemedicine and HealthTech (healthcare technology) solutions were applied to extreme social distancing restrictions.
Thankfully, more and more insurers recognize telemedicine as a legitimate medical service and pay doctors for virtual visits. Although vaccines promise to give us back our normal lives, telemedicine is likely to stay even in a post-pandemic world because it proved effective and reliable. Working in a bespoke software development company with expertise in healthcare software, I see a huge impact the coronavirus health crisis had on the whole medical sector. During the consecutive lockdowns, digital solutions and remote HealthTech tools were the only safe options patients had.
Let’s dive into how telemedical solutions affected how doctors work during the global Covid-19 pandemic and which changes are here to stay.
Crash Course in HealthTech for Doctors and Patients
As a healthcare professional, you’ve noticed how rapid transitions and surge in technology use have affected how you communicate with patients. It is only natural that after a couple of severe social distancing restrictions and “Stay at home” orders, you and your patients have established a mutual understanding of how technologies can help alleviate health concerns. Never in the medical history has it been so easy to get in touch with a qualified MD as it is today. We should perceive Covid-19 provoked digitalized medical services as opportunities to gain insights and accumulate knowledge on how to get better.
For nearly a year now, doctors and patients have been taking crash courses in telemedicine simultaneously. According to Harvard Business Review, HealthTech devices such as remote monitoring for patients with respiratory problems, high blood sugar, heart conditions, etc., in combination with the power of artificial intelligence (AI), will pave the way for new opportunities for doctors to treat and check on chronically ill patients remotely. However, one essential premise needs to be true to influence both medical practitioners and patients positively. Telemedicine will unfold its full potential best when adapted to humans and our individual needs rather than the other way around.
Doctors Report Improved Patients’ Engagement
Covid-19 was a game-changer for all of us and made us reorganize our priorities and appreciate our health. It is not surprising that the medical industry was hit particularly hard by the unprecedented modern history health crisis. Nevertheless, that experience might have a silver lining for doctors, after all. A doctor-patient relationship is based on fundamental trust but thrives when patients’ engagement is boosted, improving their outcome. Embracing self-responsibility is a vital step of healing and living a healthy life.
For medical professionals with hectic schedules, sometimes it is impossible to provide the intimate quality of care for patients when ten more are sitting nervously in the waiting room. HealthTech can be used to deliver high-quality care and boost individual patient’s proactiveness and engagement. Thanks to technological advancements, doctors can now provide patients with digital experiences like AI-based personalized recommendations or direct access to their electronic health records (EHR). They can observe current health metrics and read suggestions for improving their health status.
HealthTech Made it Easier for Doctors to Prevent Burn-Out
Unfortunately, burnout is widespread among physicians. Paradoxically enough, digital technology’s increased use can serve as both stress accumulators and stress reducers for doctors. Doctors are, first and foremost, people. And people, however strong and enduring, have limited natural energy capacities. Especially during the first and second Covid-19 waves, healthcare workers have been pronounced heroes because they served their front-line duties. But what about doctors’ increased risks of exhaustion and burnout?
We tend to associate mental health with problems, but we can also put a positive emphasis on mental health if we link it to wellness. Doctors point to their unpreparedness to the overwhelming patient flows during the first wave of Covid-19, and they need to establish best practices for working with HealthTech tools. It looks like documentation is the leading stress cause for US medical professionals as they spend three times more time documenting than European or Australian doctors. Modern online HealthTech platforms allow MDs to reduce the pressure of juggling between work tasks and streamline documentation processes. Going on virtual visits from the convenience of their homes, doctors can improve their work-life balance, which is a step further towards burnout prevention.
Telemedicine Helps Deliver Bad News to Patients
Telemedicine has also affected physicians’ work because it may make the delivery of bad news somewhat easier. However, it is considered more ethical to do so in person; telling patients that their health condition is serious and even terminal over a digital device from their home’s comfort might be the better choice for others. A doctor from the Thomas Jefferson University Hospital says that there is a higher risk for incidents when patients have to commute back home after hearing the bad news in person for patients who live in remote areas or far away from the practice.
The alternative of sitting in a cold and empty room when you hear bad news is unpleasant for many patients, who would prefer to have their spouse or someone close near them in a familiar home setting, bringing comfort. Of course, each doctor’s personal choice of approaching this delicate matter, but empathy and human emotion can also be felt through a digital device. Telemedicine is just another way of healthcare service delivery, and its quality will always depend on the healthcare professional.
Telemedical Services Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic
For over a year now, the world has been shaking from fear of the over coronavirus. Covid-19 aftermath symptoms (e.g., lung problems, lightheadedness, brain fog, or even PTSD) are claimed to linger for more than six months. No one can give a reliable prognosis as to what exactly happens in our bodies after Covid-19. However, doctors see telehealth as a promising way to deliver healthcare in a post-Covid world. They become more aware that telemedicine is necessary, safe, and effective service delivery option and wish to continue with the virtual visits in the future.
As skepticism towards HealthTech solutions drops, more and more healthcare providers turn to digital solutions such as smart devices such as remote monitoring appliances, VR sets, smartwatches, etc., to help them deliver high-quality care to support their patients. Specialized healthcare software that gives patients access to their EHR and displays medical history now pays more attention to personalized services to feel more involved in the treatment process.
Given that Covid–19 unleashed the true power of telemedicine and HealthTech, it will depend on national governments, insurers, and doctors to unleash it to benefit more people and play its deserved crucial role in the healthcare continuum.
Author Biography Aleksandrina Vasileva
Aleksandrina is a Content Creator at Dreamix, a custom software development company, and is keen оn innovative technological solutions with a positive impact on our world. Her teaching background, mixed with interests in psychology, drives her to share knowledge. She is an avid reader and an enthusiastic blogger, always looking for the next inspiration.