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As our healthcare system and others around the world gear up to deal with the largest public health crisis of the past 100 years, one additional important question to ask is how will all the other needed healthcare delivery occur over the next few months and, if the pandemic ends up going on for longer, the next 12-18 months? 

There is no doubt that our health systems must gear up first and foremost for the crisis at hand.  The need to keep people at home and away from public spaces is a short-term imperative to blunting Covid-19’s spread.

But over the longer-term, beyond these first couple of months, if we make patients significantly delay or cancel important care they require to stay healthy and function independently, or provide it in a low-quality way, we risk making the effects of this pandemic far greater.

Blood sugars and high blood pressure that cannot be monitored or controlled properly; surgical procedures that would enhance patients’ ability to care for themselves or others; arising mental health issues that will impact people’s ability to think and behave proactively with respect to staying healthy, and to work and earn a paycheck. Left neglected, these realities will amplify how Covid-19 affects local populations and will leave many more patients in worse healthcare shape once this pandemic has passed.

Until now, the view has persisted that doctors are responsible for everything. The ‘lone doctor’ model of primary care is currently in crisis. Burnout is common and few even enjoy job satisfaction. The burden of disease is growing and resources are becoming fewer and fewer, including the number of doctors.

Massive disruption is looming over the healthcare industry.

The development of digital technologies — from wearable devices and mobile health apps to telehealth services, artificial intelligence, and even blockchain — is transforming everyday access and delivery of healthcare for patients, doctors, insurers, and pharmacies alike.

For the clinicians navigating the industry, understanding and adopting these new technologies isn’t a choice; it’s the only way they’ll survive the transition to preventative medicine and value-based care.

Healthcare long stood as one of the last remaining industries holding out on digital transformation. Now, a fundamental shift in consumer habits is causing patients to take health and wellness into their own hands – literally – with new digital tools.

Digital health technologies are allowing people to play a more active role throughout the entire healthcare journey — and challenging providers to deliver more personalised and accessible care.

Patients inevitably access the health system at different levels of care.  To achieve an integrated care model, we have to consider the entire care continuum – screening, diagnosis, clinical decision support, home monitoring, data-analytics, patient engagement, emergency care and hospitalisation – and link all providers in one solution with data sharing and consent-driven access to health information.

As clinicians on the front-line, we live in constant fear of what this all means for us.  What we do know is that the world will not be the same during and after this crisis.  Change is inevitable.  We can either fear this change or embrace it and be at the forefront of delivering value for our patients’ and integrating easy-to-use digital solutions across the care continuum for a more enjoyable, satisfactory and remunerable working experience.

This article has been sponsored by specialist cardiologist, Dr Motara,  founder and CEO of the BrandMed Group.

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