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The future of healthcare is digital

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Heather Peacock, global healthcare marketing, Logitech.
Heather Peacock, global healthcare marketing, Logitech.

Telemedicine is propelling healthcare into a new era of holistic, patient-centric and proactive care, which will benefit patients, healthcare practitioners and stakeholders across the healthcare sector.

This is according to speakers participating in a webinar on the future of telehealth and virtual care, hosted by Logitech in partnership with ITWeb this week.

Heather Peacock, Global Healthcare Marketing at Logitech, said Logitech has seen the pandemic condensing long-term roadmaps for telehealth. “We’re seeing a dramatic shift in technology-enabled care. As technology has pervaded homes, we’re seeing pressure for healthcare consumerisation and growing demand for telehealth. Clinicians who were forced into this new care delivery approach are now seeing unexpected benefits, such as improvement in their own experience and better connections with patients. Virtual care is seeing astronomical growth, with the U.S. virtual care market alone forecasted to grow from 28.6 billion in 2019 to 218.9 billion by 2025, according to Frost & Sullivan.”

Ahmed Awada, Senior Manager for Virtual Health at Mediclinic Middle East, said the Covid-19 pandemic had driven widespread adoption and acceptance of telehealth services. “Before Covid-19, most teleconsultations were phone calls or voice, and there was a level of mistrust – especially among the elderly. However, the pandemic forced adoption and a huge shift to video consultations. We are now looking at 40 – 50% of teleconsultations via video, which is building a bridge between patient and doctor. With video, patients who might have been hesitant about teleconsultations, such as elderly people who wanted to see the doctor in person, are now able to see the same doctor they know and trust from in-person consultations,” he said.

The future is building more services and products, building new business models, being able to directly impact inpatient and outpatient hospital stays, improving health outcomes, and being able to take care of all patients’ needs with a unified entry point.”

He said telemedicine offered opportunities to extend virtual consultations, chronic disease management, remote patient monitoring, pre- and post-operative care, mental health services, home care, long term care and even health kiosks and booths equipped with screens and IoT devices to take readings, from where a doctor can consult and diagnose the patient. “A home ICU setup even becomes possible thanks to telemedicine. With the use of telemedicine, we can be more proactive and less reactive.”

They said there were strong use cases for telehealth to help achieve health equity by extending access to care, managing chronic conditions and delivering emergency care. “When literally every second counts, like in the case of a stroke, access to neurologists, travel time to a facility and other factors can delay treatment in the 60-minute window where it would have the most impact. But a mobile care ‘telestroke’ unit could be giving responders access to a neurologist while in transport, so they can start the essential treatments,” says Peacock:

Awada noted that wearables, IoT and innovative new products were increasing the opportunities for enhancing patient care. “We see digital technologies supporting diagnostics in future, for example, kits are already becoming available for home diagnostics where the patient takes all the necessary readings, and the doctor oversees this remotely. We are also seeing more advanced wearables with oximeters, heart rate and blood pressure monitors and ECG, all of which could ultimately help a doctor diagnose the patient while he is sitting at home.”

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