As coronavirus demands more medical resources, the current US health system cannot meet everyone’s needs. President Donald Trump signed an emergency bill to offer telehealth programs for Medicare beneficiaries, in order to help combat the spread of the virus. This is an alternative to communicate with medical practitioners without putting at risk your own health.
Several health companies have already released interactive tools and questionnaires on their websites, to help patients with coronavirus symptoms diagnose themselves, or to attend to other health problems. Non-critical cases end up with patients being given instructions to self-isolate; others with clear symptoms may receive a video call and instructions to report for testing.
As homes are becoming our own self sanctuary, technological advancements are the most precious companions during these times. The shape of a new reality is developing as IT and design converge to provide to us wearables and electroceutical devices, in order to assess our health without heading out to a doctor’s office. According to Accenture, virtual health could generate an economic value of approximately $10 billion annually across the U.S. health system over the next few years.
Are we ready to become our own doctors? There’s no question that the COVID-19 pandemic crisis is forcing us to innovate, to rethink the practice and delivery of healthcare.
Telemedicine allows patients to consult with a doctor without risking spreading or contracting the virus. Virtual medicine has brought benefits to people long before coronavirus. It saves patients time, and expands access for people who may have difficulty getting to a physical doctor’s office. It is cost-effective and efficient.
Some insurance companies have increased their investment in virtual health in response to the virus. One of the main barriers to expanding telemedicine is that people are simply not aware of its existence. Researchers are developing sensors and products such as cancer-detecting mirrors and robots that could eventually do at-home surgery.
Groundbreaking innovations are taking place, and creative device design and AI are becoming critical areas in the need of remote access to healthcare.
“One of the most important barriers to adoption — arguably the most important — is the unfavorable regulatory environment. It’s not that governmental policies and regulations are hostile to telehealth. Rather, they are complex and often difficult to navigate.” — Mohit Joshi, Forbes
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