What Impact will COVID-19 have on the Healthcare Industry?

h-shaw-UhOIDLhhIcI-unsplash What Impact will COVID-19 have on the Healthcare Industry?As the number of positive COVID-19 cases continues to increase daily, the whole world is becoming eager for a vaccine and various therapies. The US has the highest number of positive cases in the world, followed by Brazil, India, and Russia. Mass testing might be one of the ways to monitor the spread of the disease. Unfortunately, it remains unattainable, as testing more people might result in an even higher number of false positives. And even though some countries decided to reopen, global healthcare industries continue to suffer. What will the impact be on the healthcare industry in the time of COVID-19? Will it accelerate telehealth? Will vaccines and therapies be fast-tracked through the testing process?

Lack of Treatment Options

Since the pandemic started, healthcare has faced one big challenge—the lack of treatment options. Namely, more than 150 medications are currently tested worldwide. The WHO even launched an international clinical trial called “Solidarity” to find the best possible treatment options. 

Three approaches are being considered:

  1. Medications that will stop the virus from thriving in the organism
  2. Drugs that calm the immune system
  3. Antibodies from people who have the virus 

Since there’s no definitive treatment, patients remain in hospitals longer, which presents a burden to healthcare workers and hospitals. Some areas of Washington and California even allowed bankrupt hospitals to reopen

Impact on the Medical Staff

Doctors are on the frontlines of this battle, and they face the toughest challenges. However, there’s a significant shortage of PPE and tests, and the patients keep flooding the hospitals. 

Being exposed to this deadly virus took a toll on doctors and nurses. They are frustrated and afraid, not only for themselves but also for their families

Moreover, their shifts have become more frequent, and most of them canceled their annual leaves. Doctors feel like there’s nothing they can do to relax.

How to we Stand in the Fight Against Coronavirus

Considering the lack of treatment and alternative treatment options, the only thing that seems to be able to stop the disease from spreading is the vaccine. More recently, we have seen evidence that certain therapies can help those that have contracted COVID. Several countries are competing in vaccine development, and it appears that they are getting close to an announcement. 

Russia was among the first countries to successfully create an immune response, based on their early tests. Their vaccine was licensed for local use in August. According to the Lancet report, the vaccine created immunity at every participant of the trial. Nevertheless, experts claim that the trials were too small to prove effectiveness and safety. 

On the other hand, the Oxford vaccine trials are currently on hold. The latest reports claim that one person who received the vaccine suffered adverse effects. Even though isolated, this case proves that more significant and adequately designed trials are necessary for humanity to fight the disease successfully. 

Impact on the Medical Staff

Doctors are on the frontline of this battle, and they face the toughest challenges. However, there’s a significant shortage of PPE and tests, and the patients keep flooding the hospitals. 

Being exposed to this deadly virus took a toll on doctors and nurses. They are frustrated and afraid, not only for themselves but also for their families. 

Moreover, their shifts have become more frequent, and most of them canceled their annual leaves. Doctors feel like there’s nothing they can do to relax.

Increased Use of Telemedicine

There’s been an increased interest in telemedicine and telehealth in recent years. Luckily, telehealth proves to be extra beneficial to doctors and patients alike. Real-time interaction or asynchronous modality via mobile devices reduces risk while maintaining the patient-doctor relationship. 

Telemedicine also allows for remote patient monitoring. It can be used to screen those who may have contracted the virus, or it may be used to provide low-risk care. Judging by its usefulness, telemedicine is here to stay.

Artificial Intelligence to the Rescue 

AI systems help doctors recognize infected patients. These tools are based on machine learning and use chest X-rays of patients with lung abnormalities to help develop an algorithm that will detect changes. The algorithm triages patients based on the information from their X-rays faster than doctors would, freeing up their busy schedules. 

Conversely, doctors also use chatbots to analyze symptoms and assess risk. The chatbots are built on guidelines by the WHO. They are easy to use and provide advice on whether or not a person should seek medical assistance. Chances are, these tools will remain useful even after the pandemic.

Increased Access to Medications 

Picking up prescription medication in the pharmacy became risky for many people. This created the need for pharmaceutical delivery, and the consumers were ready to embrace the change. With medication delivery, traditional brick-and-mortar pharmacies will face many challenges as they are forced to provide value to consumers. 

There’s a lot of work to be done in the field of medicine delivery, especially when it comes to legal, privacy, and patient protection aspects. Still, consumers already realize the value of this change.

Home Health Aids

Even before COVID-19, people disliked nursing homes. Now, when deaths in nursing homes account for over one-third of all COVID-19-related mortalities, people are even more afraid. The impact of the virus shows that the most fragile members of the population shouldn’t remain in such facilities and that the private sector will have to respond appropriately. 

The elderly population can enjoy life without too many people around them. At the same time, they can reap the benefits of health aids, support calls, and other medical services from the comfort of their home. 

The Healthcare Technology Effects

The use of technology in healthcare proved to have a positive effect on people. Doctors can rely on technology to triage their patients, and researchers have faith in the AI that they use to analyze big data. The healthcare technology in use today will likely stay and develop in the future. 

Medical specialists realized that digital technology could create a sustainable system and improve the relationship between doctors and patients while providing enough insight into a patient’s health to allow doctors to do their job. In a way, both doctors and technological advancements save lives during the pandemic, and they will continue to do so in the future. 

Summary

The way we purchase medications has to change since the people who are at high risk of contracting the virus still visit brick-and-mortar pharmacies. In-home aids are replacing nursing homes, while the increased use of telemedicine makes remote health services increasingly popular. AI can also be used to help medical staff triage patients. 

Still, the healthcare industry will keep feeling the impact of COVID-19 until there’s a vaccine to prevent it. And while many are feeling its effects, the health industry suffers the most. The impact of the pandemic on medical staff globally resulted in increased fear and frustration among medical workers, which they have a very hard time coping with.

Stefan Ateljevic

Stefan Ateljevic, Head of Content and Community Manager at Lean Gaming. With an extensive background in content creation and love of all things regarding cryptocurrencies, Stefan passionately works to help people understand the benefits and potential of the crypto industry. Outside of work, Stefan enjoys learning about the new tech and innovations in the IT industry.

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