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Before I start telling you about different approaches to digital health and how new policies may be implemented in an accelerated way than before the pandemic, let’s actually understand what we call digital health. As the definition by Ronquillo et al., “digital health refers to the use of information and communications technologies in medicine and other health professions to manage illnesses and health risks and to promote wellness.”(1) It is a broad concept which includes approaches such as:

  • Wearable devices
  • Telemedicine
  • Artificial intelligence
  • Mobile health
  • Diagnostic tools
  • Health information technology

All these approaches come together to offer solutions for an integrative health data, for mapping outbreaks of diseases, for protecting healthcare workers from infectious diseases such as COVID-19, etc. We could go further with asking ourselves the question: Why would digital health accelerate with the pandemic?

Digital transformation idea is not new to the healthcare industry. In fact Dr Bertalan Meskó has been defending the transformation since 2009(2). And there were many new technologies arising that when they were introduced  to the users, they would hesitate because of some concerns. FluAI has applied a survey in March of 2020 asking the participants whether they felt more comfortable with digital health, now that hospitals were out of reach for not very sick people. We have come up with answers that are consistent with the literature, you can reach the report here:

Digital Health After the Pandemic, 2020, FluAI in collaboration with Yesil Science

With a global crisis digital technologies were widely accepted since they offered valuable solutions in a pandemic. It was very liberating to learn that Canadian startup BlueDot has estimated a small-scale outbreak in Wuhan, China. They were able to do so by using artificial intelligence to integrate many monitoring data and their AI was right. In the report we could understand the hesitancy people were feeling. Since healthcare is such a susceptive subject it was not a surprise for us to hear people saying that they would rather go to the doctor.

As COVID-19 timeframe has showed us that digital health technologies could improve our lives by,

  • Mobile devices being first contact about the illness,
  • Telemedicine connecting patients to the doctors swiftly,
  • New technologies such as decontamination tools protecting healthcare professionals, and honestly by many more solutions it can provide.

During the pandemic we have already implemented some of these technologies into our daily lives. If the healthcare system was to be transformed globally, how can one ensure that those without access or without knowledge of digital technologies are not left behind? And we are living in an information era, how do these technologies treat our sensitive health data?(3) These are some example questions that should be asked before we try to adapt to the new technologies. And they already are being asked not just by the users but by the governments as well.

We have talked about how everything was moving too fast with our previous blogs. With a great confidence I can point out the FluAI app as an example of a fast adapting flu assistant. You can download the app in the App Store and Play Store, and always ask us for more information about how it works.

References:

  1. Ronquillo Y, Meyers A, Korvek SJ. Digital Health. [Updated 2020 Jul 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK470260/
  2. Blue, Z. (2021). How COVID-19 Catalysed Digital Health Trends – The Medical Futurist. Retrieved 25 January 2021, from https://medicalfuturist.com/how-covid-19-catalysed-digital-health-trends/
  3. Digital health: transforming and extending the delivery of health services. (2021). Retrieved 25 January 2021, from

Author

Elif Başak Alço

PM & CLINICAL TEAM

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