Dec 19, 2020

Digital healthcare trends for 2021

digital healthcare
telehealth
AI
VR
Ryan Warren
3 min
Digital healthcare trends for 2021
Ryan Warren, Global Lead for Healthcare & Life Sciences at Lenovo Workstations, gives us his healthcare predictions for 2021 and beyond...

A challenge for healthcare institutions where only the advancement in technology can help is artificial intelligence (AI). AI will allow clinicians and researchers to harness and analyze all the healthcare data being generated by patients. 

By 2025, it is projected that there will be over 40 billion connected devices globally, all of which will be tracking and gathering patient data. It’s no wonder that healthcare data is the fastest growing segment with an average of 36% compound annual growth. 

The potential of this data is extraordinary; we can use the data to predict patient outcomes by analyzing population health, develop patient care plans, assist radiologists in identifying potential tumors or quickly build the next group of clinical subjects for rapid development and deployment of clinical trials. 

The possibilities are endless with AI, but it has the potential to transform patient care and patient outcomes while also significantly reducing the overall cost of healthcare. 

We are also starting to see how healthcare systems are embracing newer technologies like augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR) to help facilitate a higher quality of collaboration and training versus a traditional video webinar. With VR, healthcare workers are able to train and prepare for real world events all while being in a remote location. 

VR has been proven to increase trainee engagement and knowledge retention when compared to traditional training environments, while also reducing training time and cost in the process. VR hardware and software companies also have built-in tracking and analytics which allows institutions to produce a more proficient workforce. 

Another trend that we are seeing that will have a dramatic impact on the future development of medical technology, is the cross collaboration of multiple companies to create new product offerings. The lines are blurring between hardware and software vendors as customers are looking for multiple vendors to come together to provide the best solution for their clinicians and patients.

Over the short-term, the fastest growing health tech will be related to telehealth, telemedicine, and virtual care. It was already a growing trend pre-COVID-19, but exploded in this pandemic, and we don't see it going away. As we become a more globally connected community via the internet and 5G, high quality healthcare will become more of a reality to those in underserved areas around the globe. 

Rural patients won’t have to make the choice to go see a doctor or specialists that are hours away, but instead will be able to connect with them via their laptop, phone or smart display. Additionally, as more healthcare devices become connected, clinicians will be able to track and monitor their patients remotely and notify family members and loved ones if they see something that is of concern. 

The hope is that with better healthcare technology, we will become a healthier society while simultaneously reducing the strain on the system and the patients in care.

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Jun 14, 2021

Long haul Covid, the brain and digital therapies

#longcovid
#digitaltherapy
#neuroplasticity
#covid19
4 min
Neuroplasticity expert Ashok Gupta tells us about the symptoms of long Covid, how it affects the brain, and digital therapies

It is estimated that around 10% of people who get Covid-19 develop long haul Covid, a debilitating condition that can last many months and cause breathlessness, exhaustion and pain. 

Research is underway to find out who is more likely to get it and how to treat it. Here neuroplasticity expert and owner of Harley Street Solutions in London Ashok Gupta tells us how the condition affects the brain. 

What is long Covid exactly? 

Long Covid is when patients who have experienced Covid-19 go on to have continuing symptoms for weeks and months afterwards. These symptoms can include breathlessness, exhaustion, brain fog, gastric issues, pain, and post-exertional malaise. It is estimated that around 10% of Covid-19 infections may result in developing long haul symptoms, and in the USA, this may be affecting over 3 million people.

How does it affect the brain?
Here at our clinic, we hypothesise that it is due to a malfunction in the unconscious brain, creating a conditioned response that keeps the body in a hyper-aroused state of defensiveness. At the core of this hypothesis is the idea that we are here because our nervous system and immune system have evolved to survive. We are survival machines!

When we encounter something such as Covid-19, the brain perceives it as life threatening, and rightly so. And in the era of the pandemic, with more stress, anxiety and social isolation, our immunity may be compromised, and therefore it may take longer for the immune system to fight off the virus and recover. 

If the brain makes the decision that this is potentially life threatening and we get to the stage where we’re overcoming the virus, a legacy is left in the brain; it keeps over-responding to anything that reminds us of the virus. Even if we’ve fought off the virus, the brain will react in a precautionary way to stimuli reminiscent of the virus. 

The brain may get stuck in that overprotective response, and keeps stimulating our nervous system and our immune system, just in case the virus may still be present.

What symptoms does this cause? 

These signals cause a cascade of symptoms including breathlessness, extreme fatigue, brain fog, loss of taste or smell, headaches, and many others. And these are caused by our own immunes system.

In the case of long-haul Covid, symptoms in the body get detected by a hypersensitive brain which thinks we’re still in danger. The brain then chronically stimulates the immune and nervous systems, and then we have a continuation of a chronic set of symptoms.

This isn’t unique to long-haul Covid. Many patients develop chronic fatigue syndrome, sometimes known as “ME”, for example, after the flu, a stomach bug, or respiratory illness. Covid-19 may be a severe trigger of a form of chronic fatigue syndrome or ME.

How does long-haul Covid affect mental health? 
Anxiety is a very common symptom in long haulers. It can be frightening to wonder about what may be happening in your body, and what the prognosis is going to be for one’s long term health. Reaching out for support for mental health is crucial for long-haulers.

How does neuroplasticity treatment work for long-haul COVID patients?
We have been working with patients for two decades with a brain retraining programme using neuroplasticity or “limbic retraining.” 

We believe that through neural rewiring, the brain can be “persuaded” that we are no longer in danger and to come back to homeostasis. But to be very clear, we are not saying it is psychological in any way, but we believe there are novel ways of accessing the unconscious brain. 

We recently worked successfully with a 56-year-old male with long-haul Covid, who prior to contracting Covid-19 in March of 2020 was running half-marathons and cycling, but afterwards he struggled to get off the sofa for months. Within 3 months he’s now back to 100% and  running half marathons again.

At our clinic, we train the patient to be able to recognise those subtle unconscious danger signals on the periphery of consciousness. This, coupled with supportive techniques and the natural hallmarks of good health such as sleep and diet help prepare the patient to respond to perceived threats that might trigger the response. 

The natural state of our brain is to default to protection. The brain prioritises survival and passing on our genes to the next generation, over any other impulse. It cares more about that than you feeling healthy and well. Protective responses are evolutionary, and are the right thing for the brain to do – it’s survival. 

What digital therapies or apps are proving effective at treating long-haul Covid? 
It seems that long haul patients are availing themselves of many online therapies and services, including meditation apps and wellness websites. We have an online neuroplasticity “brain retraining” video course called the “Gupta Program” which hosts 15 interactive videos and many audio exercises. This is proving very popular with long haul patients, and we are currently conducting a trial to test the effectiveness of this therapy. 

What is the danger of leaving long-haul Covid untreated?
The longer it goes untreated, we hypothesise that it may become more entrenched in the brain, and  become chronic in the longer term. Therefore we advise all patients to get help and advice as soon as possible.

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