Tackling the mental health crisis of the pandemic
Increased feelings of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic, along with the disruption to mental health services have created a global mental health crisis, with the WHO estimating that 93 per cent of services worldwide have been disrupted as a result of COVID-19.
The unusual circumstances people suddenly found themselves in, and isolation caused by social distancing restrictions have led to heightened feelings of anxiety and depression. This has not only affected adults, as children, unable to go to school are also being impacted.
"Kids without or with limited internet access are falling behind in school which can lead to frustration, anxiety, depression and loneliness" explains Dr. Dawn Gonsalves.
For people experiencing mental health problems Gonsalves recommends trying to remain in touch with others as much as possible through technology. "In addition to telemedicine for mental health support, people can and should utilise technology to connect with loved ones.
"For a more personal connection, call using video chat. Individuals can also watch a light-hearted TV show or a movie. Often the best way to combat stress and sadness is by occupying your mind with other activities."
MVP Health Care has a specific behavioural healthcare programme that gives access to around 4,000 providers 24-7; it can also be accessed virtually. "MVP Health Care provides “health insurance built around me,” and throughout the pandemic that has been of the utmost importance. The programme connects members via case managers to licensed behavioural health clinicians who are available for support calls, to help improve their daily quality of life, and to help members better understand their behavioural health condition."
Gonsalves says that one positive aspect is that the importance of taking care of one’s mental health has been in the limelight for the past year. "People are feeling encouraged and supported to seek help when they previously might have stayed silent.
"The most important thing is to continue seeking mental health support and following your physician’s treatment plan."
Zoom enters the healthcare market - a timeline
Since the pandemic began Zoom has become an integral part of daily life for people working from home, as well as a vital tool for families and friends to communicate. However it's also been eyeing up the healthcare space since 2017, and following the boom in telehealth the company has been rolling out additional services. Here we chart Zoom's move into healthcare.
2011 - 2013
Zoom is founded in San Jose, California, by Eric Yuan, formerly of Cisco. He got the idea to create a video calling platform from his visits to his girlfriend while he was a student, which would take 10 hours by train.
A beta version is released in 2012, which can host up to 15 participants. In 2013 this rises to 25. By mid-2013, Zoom has 1 million users.
2014 - 2017
Zoom attracts investors, including Sequoia Capital, Emergence and Horizon Ventures. By January 2017, Zoom has a series D funding worth $100 million.
2017 - 2019
Zoom for Telehealth launches, including an integration with EHR system Epic. It has cloud-based video, audio, and content sharing features, a "waiting room" for patients, and can easily be integrated into healthcare provider's workflows.
In 2019 Zoom goes public, with its IPO rising 72% in one day.
As a result of the pandemic, Zoom gains 2.2 million new users, more than in the whole of 2019. On the 23rd of March alone - the day the UK lockdown was announced - the platform was downloaded 2.13 million times around the world.
Share prices rise to around $150, and founder and chief executive Eric Yuan becomes one of the world's richest people, with an estimated net worth of $7.9 billion.
Early security issues are addressed by encrypting data with the Advanced Encryption Standard (AES). By now the the platform allows 99 people to be on a call simultaneously
New features launch, including Zoom Home and Zoom for Chats. Throughout the year the platform is used to replace most kinds of real life events: work meetings, online classrooms, church services and social events.
Renamed Zoom for Healthcare, users can share secured video, audio, and content through desktops, mobile phones, and conference devices. As well as Epic, it can be integrated with Strmr, IntakeQ, and Practice Better.
It can also be used with diagnostic cameras and other point-of-care devices, including digital stethoscopes.
In an interview with Korea Biomedical Review, Zoom Global Healthcare Lead Ron Emerson said: "Our service is not simply a virtual care and telemedicine platform but a multi-purpose platform that can satisfy the needs of healthcare institutions."
"It can be used for administrative tasks, including telemedicine, medical team meetings, recruitment, medical education, employee training, and disease prevention. Analysing electronic records managed by Zoom could provide meaningful insights into patient care."
Phoenix Children's Hospital, Belfast's Hospital Services Limited, Butler Health Services and the global Project ECHO are among Zoom for Healthcare's current customers.