Healthcare: Lessons Learned from the Pandemic

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The crisis that the world is going through is total: sanitary, political, social, geopolitical, and economic. Faced with Covid-19, each country chose its strategy, reacted more or less quickly, and with more or less clarity to unparalleled health danger. The political decisions about the population containment and border closures play a vital role in the fight against the pandemic, but beyond these measures, there are some healthcare systems that appear to be better prepared than others to face Covid-19.

There are three assets which seem to predict an appropriate response to the crisis:

  • Knowing how to use health data and carry our mass screening
  • The capacity to control personal protective equipment stocks.
  • Avoiding Hospital Overcrowding by Relying on Telemedicine and Primary Care

Using Health Data to Carry Out Mass Screening

Faced with such a pandemic, targeted and rapid containment measures are very effective. This has been shown by some countries that have achieved the stratification of their populations in terms of risk levels, while other countries have made no distinction in the measures adopted. Take Taiwan for instance. It was able to effectively control the spread of the virus by cross-checking health databases with customs data from January onwards. By quickly identifying and confining those people who had traveled to high-risk areas, as well as those at higher risk from the virus, the Taiwanese authorities were able to avoid many deaths and protected the most vulnerable citizens. By mid-March, only 100 people were infected and one person died from Covid-19 in Taiwan.

To concentrate efforts, prevent the epidemic from spreading rapidly through the population and protect those most at risk of death – the elderly and the frail – health data is definitely an invaluable asset. The use of data should be accompanied by a policy of systematic screening to enable rapid and appropriate management. If countries can’t know who is sick how can they target their efforts? How can they know how many people are infected and monitor the evolution of the epidemic? How can the countries ensure that those most vulnerable are effectively protected? It is important to have enough test kits available and is a necessity to screen the entire population at a higher risk of infection or with major health risks.

The World Health Organization recommends countries to massively test the population so that they can identify clusters of sick people, in order to follow the evolution of the virus and to quarantine people who are contaminated. Comprehensive testing is critical to avoid the epidemic spread and further contamination.

The biggest challenge lies in the ability to respond quickly by concentrating resources on the populations that need it the most and to avoid hospital overcrowding and non-targeted measures that generate a great loss of energy without being effective.

Using Health Data to Carry Out Mass Screening

The Capacity To Control Personal Protective Equipment

Comprehensive use of basic personal protective equipment is important to effectively combat the spread of the virus. The Covid-19 epidemic has tragically shown how difficult it is for Europeans to access sufficient protective equipment for preventing the spread of the virus.

Masks are in short supply in pharmacies around the world and within different health facilities. Many primary care doctors around the world are not equipped despite the demonstrated usefulness of masks in preventing contaminations. It is essential to enable all healthcare professionals and vulnerable people to be equipped with masks, protective personal equipment, and hydro-alcoholic solutions to protect themselves from the virus.

The government also needs to control groups of people who are stealing stocks of personal protective equipment from healthcare facilities and selling them in black market. 

Avoiding Hospital Overcrowding By Relying On Telemedicine And Primary Care

Many countries that are hospital oriented were still not able to sufficiently use primary care in the pandemic crisis. While it is known that hospital capacity must be preserved so that it can provide care for patients most severely affected by the virus (amounting to 20% of those contaminated), primary care medicine is an essential asset for carrying out an initial selection, enabling continuity of care and preventing hospital overcrowding. Problems will arise if countries don’t quickly and clearly inform their healthcare practitioners about their role and what to do. If they don’t have the personal protective equipment like masks to deal with the epidemic, they will put themselves at risk. Such difficulties also reveal a real weakness in the public health systems of the world that generally focus on hospitals.

The use of telemedicine – a corollary of well structured ambulatory care – is also an essential asset in limiting hospital overcrowding. Telemedicine platforms exploded in China with the spread of the coronavirus. They enabled remote monitoring of contaminated patients and continuity of care for confined patients. Teleconsultations allow caregivers to protect themselves and carry out initial detections virtually by asking about the symptoms. However, low penetration of telemedicine and rapid mobilization of teleconsultation platforms constitutes a major barrier.

Hucu is a free messaging application that’s HIPAA compliant. When deployed in hospitals, it helps the staff to coordinate amongst themselves and better plan and prepare for daily activities at the hospital. It facilitates communication not just between the hospital staff but also between the doctors and the patients/family. So in cases where tele sessions are possible, Hucu can be used to monitor patients remotely and securely. It helps with lowering the number of patients visiting the hospitals and overcrowding so that hospital capacity can be reserved for severe or critical patients.

It is important to have enough acute care beds as well as ventilators to care for the most critical people in the pandemic. Countries need to look at their health systems, correlate the health data with predictive technology, and calculate the number of beds they would need in the future if they want to continue caring for incoming patients.

Hucu Facilitates Telehealth Consultation Sessions

The concept of telehealth has indeed existed for decades but it was slow to catch on. Getting patients to feel comfortable with the idea of online care and to find medical professionals who feel confident about conducting their work in a remote setting is a difficult job. But necessity is the mother of invention. With social distancing due to COVID-19, many non-urgent healthcare providers were forced to close their doors and push patients to seek care remotely. The federal government in the U.S. also empowered doctors to use telehealth to treat Medicare patients. 

Many state governments and private insurers followed by issuing policies favorable to telemedicine. The pandemic has highlighted three key lessons that provide an optimistic picture of the future of telehealth.

Telehealth Adoption IS Feasible

With barriers to entry reduced and circumstances forcing providers and patients to check out alternate ways to use healthcare services, telehealth services are scaling quickly. For example, the Cleveland Clinic logged more than 60,000 telemedicine visits in March 2020 alone. This is an average increase of 1700%. 

Healthcare experts agree that this trend will continue. After all, remote healthcare allows patients to be cared for much more efficiently. It also takes off the strain on healthcare facilities while reducing the operating costs and common healthcare-related infections. IT vendor Sykes surveyed around 2000 American adults about their perceptions of telehealth in Covid-19 and how it can affect their approach to telehealth in the future. More than half the respondents said that the pandemic has increased their willingness to try telehealth. Many of them tried telehealth services and they were satisfied with their experience and would want to schedule another telehealth visit in the future.

 

Doctors, Patients & Families Can Stay Connected Remotely & Securely With Hucu

This means that telehealth is here to stay even post Covid-19 and we will see its broader implementation in the healthcare system. There is a lot that Covid-19 changed in the healthcare system and we will probably see some of these changes to stay in future as we learn the lessons taught in the era of the pandemic.

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