Five C-19-related tech advances that will change healthcare
The alliance of health and technology has long held huge promise (health tech is second only to fintech in terms of technology revenues in the UK, and funding is at an all-time high in the US). But what once brought benefits to niche pockets of society has been swiftly been adopted into the mainstream, as a result of the C-19 crisis.
Throughout the industry, technological advances have been quickly accelerated beyond the prototype stage, and the vast majority have proved successful. Here are five areas that touch both healthcare professionals and the general public, that will change the way the industry works for good.
1. Virtual trade shows and conferences
A major part of the life of a healthcare professional the world over, medical congresses and trade shows were one of the first things to be axed.
Attempting to replicate these shows digitally was not the answer. Offer people 15 webinars a day back-to-back and participants will end up checking emails in the background and popping off for breaks.
Canny organisers are paring back their events, requesting contributors distil their slot to a punchy 20-minutes and offering a range of formats which suit lockdown life – using podcasts, Facebook Live and panel events, as well as webinars and teleconferencing.
It’s also important to make some content available on demand, so participants can dip in and out over a three-day period, say, and save live-streaming for ‘headline acts’. Considering ways that include gamification, rewards and VR can boost engagement.
Virtual or digital, one thing is clear - replicating the offline conference online is not enough. Brands that adopt a broadcast mentality will be most successful. Think about a news channel approach – offering fewer long speeches and instead using an engaging compere to direct proceedings online.
2. Interactive student teaching
Whereas young doctors used to rely on watching operations side-by-side with surgeons, this is significantly more difficult now and, potentially unnecessary with the rise of virtual operations.
Making use of augmented reality (AR) means that medical students can not only remotely observe but also interact with surgeries - for example, clicking on body parts to learn more.
Companies like Proximie – who harness transformative technology to offer high quality healthcare and training opportunities, regardless of location - will be part of this future momentum.
3. The rise of virtual triaging
No longer a niche preserve undertaken by the likes of Push Doctor, we are all now experiencing successful virtual triaging in our daily lives.
Take my foot injury which was diagnosed last week, for example. It was all done over video with my local GP. She discussed it, looked at the injury on her screen and then proceeded to share links to online articles that we looked at together, helping her to explain it to me virtually and presenting possible treatments.
The potential for using this approach further in settings such as care homes, in particular, is clear, provided we all have access to the tech and are comfortable using it.
4. A surge in home testing using tech
Home testing was being adopted long before the crisis, and scale will now follow.
Companies are successfully using home UTI tests - where a patient gets a test delivered, pees on a stick and uses their smart phone to ascertain if they have an infection, for example. This method holds huge potential for all sorts of areas.
In the UK alone, we know that A&E visits are already down by 50%, which is a worrying trend. People are showing just how scared they are of surgeries and hospitals and so many won’t seek treatment that could be vital.
Home C-19 testing has been important in tackling the virus and the next step is to invest in tech to support all types of home tests to work with our new normal – such as easy-to-use apps and pre-recorded explanatory videos.
5. Medical grade diagnostic kits
As we all continue to take health into our own hands, there’s also an opportunity to go one further and introduce medical-grade diagnostic kits, sending results back for clinicians to review and advise remotely.
Communication is paramount here - to ensure people understand what they’re assessing, how to use and transport any equipment correctly.
To make these a part of our everyday lives, consumer messaging should be clear and easily digestible; non-technical instruction will be key to success.
Transformative, future-focused health tech has been much talking about over the last decade, with multiple shows springing up to showcase innovation. However, in reality it’s taken a global pandemic in C-19 to bring everything into sharp focus and accelerate our much-needed adaptation. Health tech is finally coming of age.
Microsoft launches Tech for Social Impact for elderly care
Microsoft Tech for Social Impact, the tech giant's division offering tools for non profit organisations, has announced it is expanding to include aged care non profits around the world.
This means that non profit organisations helping elderly residents in nursing homes or with other daily support will now be eligible for technology grants and discounts of up to 75%, as well as training and capacity building to help with digital transformation.
The care home sector has been one of the hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, caring for some of the most vulnerable people in society. As a result organisations around the world have been deploying innovative technologies, such as IoT to create monitoring solutions that enable independent living, through to AI-driven robots that provide companionship as well as alert the user's care team if there are any changes to their symptoms.
The German Red Cross (DRK) is an early adopter that is already benefitting from this programme expansion as part of Microsoft Tech for Social's pilot scheme. DRK provides services and assistance to over 40,000 people at more than 500 aged care facilities in Germany, with a further 90,000 receiving care in their own homes.
Thanks to Microsoft 365 cloud technologies such as SharePoint and OneDrive, along with Teams for communication, DRK was able to continue its daily work even at the height of the pandemic crisis. Residents of DRK facilities used Teams to keep in touch with relatives despite restrictions to visits, and there are plans to continue using these channels in the future to prevent isolation among residents.
Following the pilot’s success, the programme will offer discounts and grants to eligible organisations for its Microsoft cloud stack including Business Applications, Azure and Modern Work, leveraging the firm's sector-specific tools with Microsoft Cloud for Nonprofit which will be generally available in the second half of 2021.
Microsoft estimate that around 75,000 new non profit organisations around the world will be eligible for the programme.