Healthcare goes online
There has been an explosion of third-party technology providers offering online access to doctors, while health insurance providers will increasingly see rising demand for remote care pathways offering physiotherapy, through apps such as Ascenti, and mental health treatment through the services like My Online Therapy.
“Virtual healthcare provides an opportunity to improve access to healthcare professionals, minimising the spread of infection, whilst delivering timely care,” says Dr Anushka Patchava.
Empowering at-home diagnostics
Restrictions on movement during the pandemic in effect catalysed the deployment of innovations that were already happening: patients started taking blood samples themselves using self-testing kits, and new technologies for remote patient education, diagnosis and monitoring have also emerged.
“Individuals are being empowered to take control of their own health and healthcare journey with fast-track skin cancer screening through services such as Skin Analytics and easy-to-use ‘at home’ screening tests like Check4Cancer,” said Dr Patchava.
Remote monitoring for long-term conditions
Leveraging new models of care, including virtual wards - alongside remote patient monitoring and in-home connected devices - will help relieve the strain on hospital health systems and bed shortages, whilst providing healthcare practitioners with a more holistic picture of a person’s health, according to Dr Patchava. “Allowing the healthcare team to personalise interventions and drive lifestyle and behaviour changes, ultimately improving health outcomes for the patient in the comfort of their own home,” she added.
A renewed – and virtual - focus on mental health
The pandemic has also impacted the nation’s mental health and the way it is supported, and the availability of and demand for solutions that can support one mentally through these times are ever increasing.
According to ORCHA, the COVID-19 crisis helped drive 176% usage of apps dedicated to the management of depression, an 86% increase in apps dedicated to treatment for anxiety and a 328% increase in searched for apps related to sleep. Dr Parchava notes that with the arrival of digitally-enabled treatments, insurers like Vitality are able to better support affected populations, improving mental health and wellbeing at scale.
Wearables, virtual reality and the ‘internet of things’ (IOT)
With prevention and wellbeing in the spotlight, it’s likely we are going to see increasing penetration of smart phones and tablets being used to store patients records, alongside Apple Watches and wearables that track physical activity and help manage health conditions - as the ‘internet of things’ (IOT) continues to drive medical innovation, Dr Patchava pointed out. It’s also possible that technologies such as virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) may become more mainstream, and used to connect remote environments to leading healthcare systems, while increasing the potential for clinical knowledge sharing and training opportunities, she added.