“Healthcare will be everywhere from now on”

COVID-19 has forced the world to stop and reset. Now, as governments begin to look past the peak of the pandemic, industries push to resume operations, even if this doesn’t necessarily mean going back to ‘normal’. Whatever ‘normal’ means.

Healthcare organizations have scrambled to adapt to the COVID-19 crisis, and now there’s no going back. Nor, probably, in many other industries.

Through a discussion conducted by Sunita Yadav, Vice President of Cardiovascular and Orthopedic Service Lines at Catholic Health Services; Michael Godoy, Telemedicine and Scalable Therapeutics Program Director at UCSF Medical Center; Shawn Nason, Founder, CEO & Eco-System Disruptor at MOFi; and Zayna Khayat, Futures Strategist at SE Health made it clear that “this is a unique opportunity to recreate the future”. But how? What are the new rules of engagement for healthcare systems and what critical role can IoT play in COVID-19 recovery?

Yadav started up the webinar jointly organized by the Industrial Internet Consortium and the IOT Solutions World Congress with an illuminating ice-breaker exercise: She asked the panelists to define what COVID meant for them. “Work from home”, “reset”, “chaos” and “balance” popped up just like jigsaw puzzle pieces making up the big picture of a strange and challenging situation.

Then, the experts discussed whether it’s possible to deliver online care without any loss of efficiency, how to overcome technical and logistics obstacles and how to reconfigure facilities to adapt to this new situation which will inevitably put less emphasis on in-person care if there’s a way to give the same type of treatment online. In this regard, Zayna Khayat endorsed the “homespital” concept and made clear that IoT devices will certainly help recreate a hospital at home and leverage passive surveillance and monitoring, particularly for people at risk. Shawn Nason echoed this sentiment by stressing that an effort has to be put in “keeping people healthy”, while Sunita Yadav reminded that the shift from in-patient to out-patient was already happening in the pre-COVID world.

Michael Godoy followed up by highlighting that “the costs of reconfiguring, and having video cameras for therapy for example, aren’t that high”. Yet there are underprivileged communities without internet access, and not everybody has a device to support a Zoom meeting, put Zayna Khayat. All in all, it’s just about “re-imagining the experience”, said Nason, while Godoy made it clear that “the clinical outcomes of online treatments are similar to those that were originally offline.”

That’s probably undisputed for mental health therapy, but what about other medical problems? In this post-COVID world, remote is to be expected and IoT devices will be a conduit between patients or consumers and organizations, but we will probably need time to be comfortable with that.

Eventually, Shawn Nason got back to the words the panelists used to define COVID to underline that “everybody needs healthcare and that healthcare will be everywhere from now on.” You can be in a supermarket, a factory, or a casino, but you’ll need your temperature to be checked, a mask and other sanitary protection measures. So, industries should prepare now for it. The future, said the experts, is “expanding access to care”. Meanwhile, let’s stay safe.

By Anna Solana

Pedro Mier

Pedro Mier holds a degree in Telecommunications Engineer ing from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia, MBA from ESADE and PADE from IESE. He is currently President of AMETIC (Association of Electronics, Information Technology and Telecommunications Companies of Spain), Shareholder and Chairman of the Board of Directors of TRYO Aerospace & Electronics, Board Member of the Premo Group and Committee of CTTC. member of Space Angels Network and Member of the Sc ientific Advisory