Seven key trends of digital transformation in healthcare
Every industry needs to adapt to current times, technology is constantly evolving and businesses need to catch up and then keep up with the times. The healthcare industry is constantly innovating, from telemedicine to the use of RPA to enhance the patient experience. Thanks to the innovative technology, patients undergo enhanced treatment with the help of virtual reality, wearable devices and much more.
The first key trend is the rise in on-demand healthcare, customers want appointments and care that fit around their schedule, they want convenience. People have become far more mobile than previous decades so customers expect and want to be diagnosed and treated online, through online tools so they can stay in the comfort of their home.
The second key trend is the importance of big data, it can provide several benefits such as a lower rate of medical errors. Online software will be able to flag any inconsistencies and mistakes in patient data which can then alert healthcare professionals and reduce the risk of error. The predictive analysis of big data is able to assist hospitals and clinics estimate future admission rates, therefore this helps the facilities allocate the proper medical staff to deal with patients. Healthcare companies should invest in their data.
The third key trend is patient treatment through virtual reality (VR). Millions of people suffer with chronic pain, virtual reality has proved to be a more efficient and a safer alternative to drugs. It can also be used to treat strokes, PTSD and more illnesses. From healthcare startups to multi-million pound businesses, VR should be at the forefront of all business plans.
The fourth key trend is the growth in wearable technology. Devices such as heart monitors and exercise trackers have been on the rise in recent years, these innovative devices allow for a personalised healthcare experience and gives the patient ownership of their own experience. In addition, data collected from the devices can improve the accuracy of treatment.
The fifth trend is predictive healthcare which can aid businesses of all sizes, it can help predict what illnesses and diseases may become major problems in the near future, this prediction can consequently reduce the pressure on healthcare systems.
The penultimate trend is , AI is transforming nearly every industry and healthcare is no exception. It has allowed for the implementation of chatbots and virtual health assistants which in turn improve and enhance the customer experience. The real power of AI is yet to be unleashed, it will soon improve precision medicine, drug discovery and more.
The last trend is blockchain and improved electronic health records. Blockchain is often seen as a puzzling concept however, the better people understand it, the more it will continue to advance the healthcare industry. The healthcare and pharmaceutical industries are already heavily investing in blockchain as it is already proven to be effective in preventing data breaches and also improving the accuracy of medical records.
Which trend do you think is the most important? Tweet us at @HealthcareDig and let us know.
Long haul Covid, 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.