Coronavirus slapped us hard. It showed how unprepared our economy and some industries are in the face of a global crisis. The consequences of the previous economic disaster of 2008 had just faded out, without giving people much room for a breather, when the current one stroke. However, arguably, the COVID-crisis is much worse because it puts an enormous strain not only on the economy but on the HealthCare industry, which is at the forefront of the disaster. Exhausted medical personnel, amplified operational crisis, lack of resources, management that can’t keep up with the pace of the disaster, the patients with untreatable, harsh, or terminal conditions who can’t get their treatment because of the load on the establishments — it’s a scary, grim reality of today.
And while the majority of meaningful changes that will help the HealthCare industry now and in the future are on political reforms, additional investments, raised salaries, bigger personnel, and better management, advancing technology in healthcare can make its valuable contribution as well. The shock and sheer scale of the crisis were also a source of inspiration and determination to launch new tech initiatives that would help the HealthCare industry and mitigate its current and possible hardships.
This article will scratch the surface of technology and HealthCare in these trying times, examine how companies try to fight issues of the industry, and what initiatives in information technology and healthcare are a hot necessity.
Crisis, HealthCare, and Technology
For many HealthCare establishments, COVID can be a finishing blow. Even before the crisis, the industry was in a bad place. In the US, in 2018, the median operating margin (defined as the difference between revenue and operating expenses, divided by revenue), was 2%, and an average hospital had 50 days of cash on hand. Nonetheless, the hospitals in the 25th percentile were in a far worse predicament with a -4% operation margin and only 7 days’ worth of cash. The fifth of rural hospitals was at risk of closing down because of financial problems. And now, the pandemics hit. Hospitals in Massachusetts alone are expected to lose $5 billion in revenue until the end of July. No matter how generous governmental financial aid will be, plenty of hospitals wouldn’t survive the crisis.
As we described in our article on the Operational Crisis of HealthCare, for several years now the industry has been on a steady decline because of the strategic, working-environment, legislative, and operational reasons. Now, because of the pandemics, the decline transformed into a steep slope, and things started rolling downhill very fast.
The response to the crisis should be as fast and powerful as ever. Some organizations already kick-started fresh initiatives to help the sector to survive, overcome, and improve throughout the challenge. The need for innovation in digital HealthCare is urgent.
Here, we gathered some of the most interesting and influential technology solutions for HealthCare.
‘Code Against COVID-19’ by ARC
“We believe software can be a force for good, especially during this COVID-19 crisis.”
A network of 500.000 developers from Codementor and Arc communities launched the initiative Code Against COVID, the aim of which is to connect organizations, which are in grave need of freelance software developers and mentors, with developers so the former can overcome the challenges of the crisis by developing specially-tailored solutions. Since the launch, more than 200 developers have agreed to work for free or for reduced rates, and more than 20 projects are under construction.
Among those projects are
Operations Masks — a nonprofit tech, logistics, and healthcare initiative created to help supply with and streamline delivery of quality-assured protective equipment to hospitals directly from factories on a scale.
Public health data platform — the network that consists of hospitals, governmental agencies, and social services. The network includes “emergency response coordination, ICU capacity monitoring, surveillance of outbreak in vulnerable populations, optimizing treatment, and facilitating testing.”
Scale testing in rural areas — quickly and efficiently supplying blood tests to rural areas.
Doubling Down on the Efficiency of UX
Because of the unprecedented load on hospitals and routine care suspended, a lot of patients were left without sufficient care or even the inability to get their diagnosis promptly. As a result, some people even with harsh conditions were left to fend for themselves. Some telemedicine organizations decided to mitigate this issue by hyper-focusing on UI/UX to streamline the care process and ensure that more of their patients get help faster and on a bigger scale. For instance, Abi Global Health focused on their chatbot that helps on the first steps of a patient’s journey.
Overall, in such times, increasing the capacity of telemedicine systems so they can handle higher loads more efficiency, streamlining UX so people don’t have to deal with the frustration of unintuitive app experience, and enhancing systems as a whole so they are more bulletproof — are all decent and effective strategies for preparing HealthCare apps to serve a wider and more desperate audience.
Supply Optimization and Load Prediction
The need for a steady income of quality supplies has never been more urgent. Unfortunately, a lot of HealthCare establishments are left without sufficient supplies. While factories are doing their best to level up their production, a better-optimized distribution of medical supplies among the hospitals according to the predicted number of patients will go a long way in ensuring that hospitals have what they need, when they need it, without tapping into the limited precious resource other hospitals may require more.
For example, Penn Medicine in Philadelphia’s predictive system contains a COVID-19 Hospital Impact Models for Epidemics. This up and coming technology in HealthCare helps with capacity planning by predicting an expected number of coronavirus cases in a certain population as well as an approximate number of daily admissions. As a result, hospitals can plan with higher precision and request supplies accordingly. The help in planning is a tremendous relief for the industry. The app is open-source, so different hospitals can adjust the app to their specific needs and the population they serve.
There’s no shortage of apps that help to trace people with the disease or determine high-risk individuals who were in contact with the infected population. A lot of bigger, such as RT.live by Instagram founders, and smaller, such as a tracking app from Georgia University lab researchers, entrepreneurs tried their hand in developing tracking apps of all sorts, and their initiative is positive because such knowledge is a powerful tool in the hand of hospitals and testing facilities. It helps them to better optimize testing and reduce supply usage.
Computer Tomography Reading Optimization
A new HealthCare technology — a CT imagining and interpretation tool — was deployed In Wuhan and later in the whole world. If you ever wondered, “What is digital innovation in healthcare?’ this tool is an answer. This application decreases the CT reading time from hours to seconds, which significantly improved the accuracy of diagnoses and makes CT available to more people. Other tools provided patients with the possibility to send their CT scans to doctors remotely, so they can read them and provide diagnoses. It’s difficult to overestimate the impact of the technology on nursing and healthcare, as each diagnostic process streamlined and automated is plenty of time saved and potential risks from visiting public places decreased.
The HealthCare industry, and with it humanity as a whole, is in quite a predicament. If there’s a time for a change, innovation, and modernization of information technology solutions for healthcare, it’s now. The crisis gives us plenty of motivation to act and evolve current systems, and some organizations have already started developing their solutions to help with many troubles of today. The foundation of the future technology for healthcare is being laid down now.
As for KindGeek, we already have some initiatives, which are meant to help our industry, where plenty of companies are also under threat because of the troubled economy. We would be happy to use our skills and experience to help HealthCare too. If you have the solution in mind that would mitigate the HealthCare industry’s troubles, we can be the ones who help you make it a reality. Be it a telemedicine solution, a hospital management system, an inventory management solution, laboratory supply interface, streamlined UI/UX for an app, or other technology for HealthCare we can develop one from scratch or help you to improve the existing system
In any case, feel free to contact us. We’ll be glad to answer your questions.