The global pandemic of 2020 is drastically transforming how doctors and other health care specialists manage and practice primary health care. Amidst this entire situation, health care professionals are readjusting the usage of resources, altering the techniques by which they interact with their patients, and are promoting inclusion of technology within the field of medicine.
Development of Telemedicine
Doctors, being the front line fighters, are increasingly concerned about the spread of the virus and are invested in researching and finding ways to reduce the transmission of the virus. Thus, doctors are increasingly partaking in remote health care provision. One such practice is known as telemedicine. It is defined as the “remote diagnoses and treatment of patients using telecommunications technology” (Oxford Dictionary). Governments and private health care facilities alike are promulgating the incorporation of relevant technology depending upon its feasibility. Telemedicine takes advantage of modern technologies and software it ensures the virtual provision of health care to individuals by the usage of devices such as smartphones, laptops, smartwatches, etc. These devices contain applications that can measure and monitor a patient’s heart rate, blood pressure, and sugar levels. The patient’s vitals are stored on a platform and are updated regularly. Moreover, these applications may contain Chatbots so that people with milder symptoms can be treated, however in case of serious symptoms the patient is referred to a specialized doctor. Moreover, facilities such as video calls can also allow the doctor to monitor the patient and assess their physical symptoms online.
Such technologies save time for both the patient and the doctor and ensure that the doctor is spending their valuable time with the most vulnerable patients. Utilization and embracing of such technology can lead to rapid evaluations while ensuring that patient contact with the doctor is limited hence avoiding the risk of viral exposure for both parties. Furthermore, many doctors are being encouraged to adopt telemedicine by offering them training sessions. The emergence and vast utilization of telemedicine during a global pandemic can easily crawl its way into normal everyday health care practice.
Improvement in Information sharing and handling
Not only is coronavirus strengthening the already existing bond between medicine and technology it is fundamentally changing how doctors work as well and causing a trickle-down effect towards far-reaching structural changes within global health care. The handling of data and information at extremely fast speeds has become a prime concern of researchers and doctors as well. Effective information sharing has ensured that statistical models can be built and tested and relevant information be provided to doctors. Moreover, information such as the genetic code of the virus was made available globally so researchers worldwide could work on it. The infrastructure being developed to make fast information sharing possible is likely going to be in place after the pandemic subsides thus it can fundamentally change and speed up the way health care professionals handle data and information as well as ensuring fast travel of data and increasing the overall effectiveness of health care practice.
An example of the improvement in information technology in light of coronavirus is the employment of militant tracking technology by ISI to track down coronavirus patients. They utilize geofencing and phone monitoring to effectively trace Covid-19 patients and the individuals they came into contact with.
Recognition of already existing problems in healthcare systems
The spread of the virus has also exposed the vulnerabilities that exist within the health care systems of countries. The structural lacking of hospitals has uncovered fundamental systematic problems and challenges doctors face daily. From a lack of doctors to a lack of medicine, health care systems globally showed their shortcomings. However, these inadequacies came with a silver lining as the problem was brought to the surface, and governments and other relevant bodies alike pledged to support health care systems both through financial and non-financial means. The pandemic added to the realization of the pertinence of effective health care structures that can sustain and survive under intense pressures. Thus due to global pandemic, hospitals and other medical sectors received financial aid that is most likely going to improve the existing infrastructural and systematic vulnerabilities, paving way for a healthier future.
Attention towards safety
Another factor, which has changed significantly, is the concept of safety within hospitals. While patient safety was always an utmost priority, now the safety of doctors is also being given preference. Ensuring strict compliance of safety standards by the doctors has become the norm in hospitals. Doctors who are not even treating Covid-19 patients are required to use gloves, masks, and PPE kits. Hospitals are regularly disinfected and sanitized. Other measures include giving doctors a 14-day work period followed by a 14-day quarantine period ensuring that all health care professionals are safe. Moreover, hospitals have directed additional funds to ensure the safety of their staff, which portrays a healthy organizational relationship between the employer and the employee. These strict codes for doctor safety are most likely to continue post-pandemic. This will not only result in better safety standards and hygiene but also assure doctors of their pertinence in turn raising their morale.
While the global pandemic has strained our healthcare systems it is imperative to realize and appreciate the sacrifices our healthcare workers have made in combatting Covid-19. The changes in global healthcare systems highlight our ability to be adaptive and responsive to any global health challenge paving way for the survival and well-being of humanity.
Written By: Rohina Khizer
Rohina Khizer is a doctor from AIMC who has a profound interest in arts and writing she tries to create a versatile and balanced experience between her work and her hobbies. Currently registered with GMC -UK, she plans to move abroad for her specialization.