The COVID-19 pandemic may have changed the way we live and work in more ways than we realize. Nevertheless, it’s a crisis that technology has stepped up to address. That’s precisely why healthcare providers, such as Geisinger Health System, have been able to keep up with a 500% rise in teleconsultations, even as the number of employees logging in remotely has doubled to 13000.
As the world still reels under the impact of the epidemic, healthcare institutions around the world are encouraging people to leverage remote options for seeking help.
As the world still reels under the impact of the epidemic, healthcare institutions around the world are encouraging people to leverage remote options for seeking help. For example, in Germany, where restrictions on remote consultation were lifted as recently as 2018, Health Innovation Hub, a think-tank established by the country’s Ministry of Health, published a list of telemedicine services (most of which are free) in the wake of the global coronavirus outbreak. These services offer secure digital platforms that enable and facilitate remote patient-doctor interaction without compromising service quality. Doctors can use these services without any hardware investment or technical knowledge.
The State of Healthcare Workers
Since the outbreak, frontline healthcare workers have been swamped with calls from patients wanting to speak to their doctors about COVID-19 symptoms. Many healthcare organizations are leveraging self-triaging tools to help callers check for symptoms before they can reach a doctor. In Washington State, Province Health saw 70000 patient logins and more than 1 million messages come in through their chatbot, Grace, in one month (since the outbreak) after they reconfigured it with COVID-19-related assessments and FAQs. To put things into perspective, these numbers are 10-15 times higher than the pre-pandemic numbers.
In Washington State, Province Health saw 70000 patient logins and more than 1 million messages come in through their chatbot, Grace, in one month (since the outbreak) after they reconfigured it with COVID-19-related assessments and FAQs.
As is evident, healthcare professionals are in dire need of technologies that can ease their tasks while minimizing the health risks to which they are exposed, now more than ever. While caregivers struggle to provide quality care to those affected by COVID-19, they cannot do so at the expense of patients with other acute illnesses or chronic conditions. They cannot let follow-up appointments or cases (other than COVID-19) that need immediate attention pile up either. In a time when social distancing is paramount, giving every patient the care and attention they deserve is a daunting challenge.
Which Cutting-Edge Technologies Can Help
Although advancements in technology have improved the quality of healthcare services, the COVID-19 pandemic is a one-of-a-kind crisis that needs novel measures to be addressed. As caregivers struggle to contain the spread of the infection, especially in healthcare set-ups (which house people with already compromised immune systems and are thus more prone to getting infected), virtual reality and wearable technologies can be invaluable for offsetting the impact that would otherwise wreak havoc.
As caregivers struggle to contain the spread of the infection, especially in healthcare set-ups, virtual reality and wearable technologies can be invaluable for offsetting the impact that would otherwise wreak havoc.
i. Virtual Reality
As most countries head towards complete lockdown, it has become difficult for healthcare professionals to help those who need continuous medical care, advice, or therapy. This is where AR-VR solutions can help. Today, there are immersive applications available that have been designed to enable motor and cognitive training, help in pain management, and provide real-time analytics for clinicians and patients. Caregivers can use this to monitor patient performance and progress, and make necessary adjustments.
Wearables, like glucometers and blood pressure monitoring equipment, allow caregivers to monitor the health of their patients constantly (even from a distance) and make more informed decisions. Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) equipment, such as sensor-based wearables, help transmit patient data from one location to another. RPM has a huge potential to lower patient readmission rates, reduce wait times in hospitals, and save costs.
And in times such as this, both these solutions and equipment can greatly help healthcare providers to ensure that patients with mild conditions/symptoms (that do not warrant a visit to the ER or admission) can be treated or advised safely from afar without them risking a visit to a clinic or hospital, which are relentlessly treating patients infected with COVID-19 at the moment.
What Stands in the Way of Adoption
However, using these solutions comes with the challenge that plagues all such initiatives – managing, monitoring, and securing the devices deployed. Apart from the cost involved (which, although significant, would not come in the way of ensuring patient safety and easing the workload on healthcare workers during pressing times), the complexities of large-scale deployment, and troubleshooting and managing updates remotely make it a tough call for healthcare organizations to adopt such solutions. In addition, now, when the healthcare industry is already struggling to keep things up and running, even a small misstep during solution implementation can have dire consequences.
How SureMDM Can Help
The best way to minimize the risk of disruption is to adopt a mobile device management solution. SureMDM by 42Gears offers remote management and lockdown capabilities for virtual reality systems. As VR-based solutions gradually gain ground (and become a popular alternative to in-person appointments), 42Gears’ endpoint management technology can help IT admins turn VR devices, such as the Pico G2 and HTC Vive Focus , into dedicated-purpose tools, deliver content and apps over-the-air, remotely view VR screens to offer support, and reduce device maintenance time and costs.
SureMDM can also help healthcare organizations embrace wearable technology. Non-smart devices, such as ECG monitors, biosensors, etc. can now be managed through SureMDM, thanks to 42Gears’ revolutionary Things Management Technology. In addition, SureMDM can also be used to convert off-the-shelf devices, such as smartphones and tablets, into kiosks that healthcare practitioners can use for teleconsultations. The solution also helps to bolster device security, providing healthcare providers with peace of mind as they focus on the pandemic.