Healthcare in the pre-COVID-19 era
The healthcare industry has traditionally been playing catch up with increased demand on systems worldwide, owing to factors such as an ageing population, increased life expectancy, rising costs and a traditionally reactive approach to care.
Many of these factors have seen a shift in the last decade as patients become active participants in decision-making when it comes to their care. Patients are more informed and empowered, so they are keen to take matters into their own hands by pursuing a more proactive approach to their health and wellbeing.
As healthcare costs continue to rise worldwide, health sectors and stakeholders such as patients, payers, care providers and the governments have been forced to adopt new models of care that emphasise improving outcomes in the most efficient way possible. Emphasis on outcome-based payments, home care, community outreach, and patient education are just examples of shifting healthcare dynamics.
COVID-19 has accelerated technology adoption
Whilst healthcare technology has been slowly evolving over the past decade; COVID-19 heightened the pace of innovation to unprecedented levels. The wise words “Necessity is the mother of invention” ring true as we have seen healthcare embrace virtual care overnight to meet the impossible needs of today’s times requiring distancing. Providers have urgently enhanced their digital capabilities to deploy patient-facing infrastructure such as telehealth whilst being forced to invest in foundational elements such as patient privacy, electronic records and interoperable systems. Policymakers have played their part in expanding access to care by enabling providers to be compensated for virtual appointments. The industry has embraced data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to unlock insights and develop innovative solutions at speed and scale.
The adoption of digitisation and technology will be permanent in a post-COVID world. Key stakeholders have not only experienced new approaches to care delivery, but they have also seen firsthand the power of AI tools and technology to address inequities in access to care when and where it is needed the most.
On the other hand, non-urgent and elective care put on the back burner when COVID-19 hit in 2020 will continue to put pressure on the sector for years to come. Taking radiology as an example, policy measures adopted to slow disease transmission have led to a built-up demand for non-urgent medical imaging. Comprehensive AI tools like Annalise CXR with a high level of accuracy for a large number of findings (https://www.thelancet.com/journals/landig/article/PIIS2589-7500(21)00106-0/fulltext) will make clinicians more efficient and more accurate. This will further improve clinicians’ confidence to adopt comprehensive AI tools and incorporate them as part of the clinical workflow moving forward. These tools will be crucial in ensuring the global population can access high-quality care wherever they need it the most.
Moving forward, we will see more meaningful partnerships emerge in the public and private sector to leverage the power of AI and technology for early detection of diseases, timely diagnosis and customised treatments. Adjacent industries such as pharmaceuticals and vaccine R&D will accelerate discovery to rapidly introduce new vaccines and drugs to the market without compromising safety and efficacy. There is no denying that healthcare has reached an inflection point, and harrison.ai will continue to play an essential role in developing comprehensive AI solutions for the global patient population
Bhoomi Lalani is Senior Strategy Manager, harrison.ai