Digital Healthcare Solutions in the Age of COVID-19

Digital Healthcare Solutions in the Age of COVID-19

“Hindsight’s 2020”

What an interesting collision of 2 words, for an interesting year.

Three months ago, you were likely finishing up work on a (chances are) briskly cold January afternoon and headed to the (crowded) pub, scarfing down some (communally handled) bar nuts, and maybe even just sneezing up a storm without covering your mouth. It’s scary how 3 months can flip a world upside down, and stretch the limits of economic stability. In a world where we once considered ourselves the masters of our environment, who knew how badly the COVID-19 crisis would be able to push us off the proverbial edge! If we’ve learned anything through this, it’s that expeditious communication is fundamental.

And now here we are, injecting $2T+ of federal funding into the digital healthcare system to help defibrillate the economy, and aid this communication. With the emergence of AI, Telemedicine, EMR, big data, and complex integrations within each piece of technology, companies are being fully stressed to adapt at a pace that’s leaving heads spinning.

What’s going on with Telemedicine

telemedicine“Flatten the curve: Practice social distancing,” will be regarded as 2020’s slogan. With this mantra front row center, it’s no wonder Telemedicine in the United States has had an uptick of 1,000% in the last few weeks alone, says Ray Dorsey, Director of the Center for Health and Technology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

In fact, industry leader Teladoc even saw a 110% increase in volume in the last few months, leaving investors thirsty for the pursuit of following the “new norm patterns” of online healthcare. With margins increasing due to increased value through functionality, my guess is that visiting your local doctor’s office will be a way of the past in a few years, though time (and what’s next in the pathogen lineup) might skew these timelines.

Mind-blowingly, patients are taking to telemedicine in a positive way, even recording up to 92% of patients’ medical issues being resolved just after their 1st visit. Patients are quickly seeing the ease at which consults are done, completed, and follow up “next steps” are taken. It’s been a long time coming, but “adios” might be a good fit for describing the tolls of post-pandemic doc visits, including traffic, parking, gas, heck… even replacing your pajamas with proper clothes to leave your house. While complexities still remain, and online security is being tested, we see great potential for eradicating face-to-face visits. While doctors are in high demand, perhaps it just won’t be as necessary anymore to get in some face time once this health pandemic is through.

What’s happening with AI and Healthcare

Consider, for example, both the short and long-term implications of India’s population. Currently sitting at 1.35 billion people, and quickly catching up to China’s estimated 1.4 billion people, doctors are in high demand. Scarcity is setting in – while it’s suggested that roughly 1 doctor can efficiently manage approximately 1,000 people, 1 doctor in India currently has to serve just over 10,000 people, and the problem is quickly becoming worse.

So what’s the solution to this issue? It might just be artificial intelligence. AI, a fad turned trend, has had major companies and billionaire investors alike are all racing to capitalize on the emerging technology. But how can it help the gaping holes doctor-to-patient ratios like India’s?

Big data analysis! With once siloed communities now building super-sized online forums that collect and sift data into categories and subcategories, the big data world is colliding head-on with the medical world. Now let’s toss in a dash of AI, mix the soup, and voila… A finely tuned recipe to fix every patient that ever came into your online clinic. Well, it’s not that simple, but it’s close.

Think about it – Netflix can already analyze and project what movies you like based on your personal preferences, hotspots on where you land on movies and click through, and which movies you watch until the end. All of this is done inputting data real-time into a virtual network. Physicians can utilize the same system, inputting and exchanging data on symptoms in real-time, with AI calculating the most plausible outcomes – all with tailored medical plans and drugs to follow.

Has there ever been a better time for a worldwide health system?

Electronic Medical Records (EMR for short) has taken the last 15 years to get granular enough to start retrieving qualitative output from. With a $36B cash injection from the federal government, it makes sense that we’re gunning for a world where paper records become obsolete, and computers can spit us out an effective remedy for what we need.

Sharing info is the name of the game here, with digital communications running rampant, and (crossing our fingers) meticulously organized. With features like online SOAP Notes, Smart Charting, Advanced Scheduling/Booking, Patient Portals, and Automated Questionnaires & Consent Forms, it’s no wonder we’re seeing an emergence of productivity unlike ever before.

But there are inevitably glitches in the system, predominantly that every major EMR software provider doesn’t want to consolidate and join forces with another. Have you ever tried syncing Microsoft with Apple products? They don’t tend to play nicely, and in a market where both are struggling for a bigger piece of the pie, it’s no surprise that then tens of thousands of EMR’s available aren’t all amigos on the playground – integrations, communications, knowledge transfer just isn’t there yet.

We’re lucky enough at North Studio to work with some of the major players in the healthcare research, helping leverage digital systems so that our partners can build even higher productivity.