Navigating Healthcare in a Post-COVID-19 World

 (photo credit: COURTESY/ING IMAGES)
(photo credit: COURTESY/ING IMAGES)
Over the last several months, COVID-19 has rocked the globe and affected nearly every industry. One of the industries that has been particularly influenced by the current pandemic is, of course, the healthcare industry. It seems safe to say that, in the wake of this pandemic, we’re going to navigate healthcare very differently as we move forward. One way we’re going to do that is by placing a greater emphasis on telemedicine.
The severity of COVID-19 has led to an increased acceptance of telemedicine. Telemedicine was already in use during the pre-pandemic era, but primarily for things like prescription refills and minor conditions like coughs and colds. Now, though, it’s being used for a wide range of health conditions, and that’s unlikely to change anytime soon.
COVID-19 Exposed Weaknesses in the Healthcare System
The pace of developments in COVID-19 treatments has underscored a significant problem within the healthcare system. No doctor can keep up with all of the treatment advances for one disease, let alone all of the 7,000 plus diseases with which someone could possibly be afflicted. In response to this problem, patients are starting to play a larger role in their treatment plans. The issue here, though, is that they also struggle when it comes to accessing the information they need to identify potential diagnosis, find a doctor who can help them, and become aware of the latest advances.
The pandemic and increased reliance on telemedicine have also shined a light on many of the frustrations patients and their families face when trying to find the right type of healthcare for their needs. Many people who turned to telemedicine out of a desire to stay away from hospitals and doctor’s offices found that they had trouble finding a physician who had the knowledge necessary to provide them with the type of care they were after.
The Solution: Big Data
Many telehealth platforms are listening to the concerns and frustrations of patients and are finding ways to respond and solve their problems. One of the most effective ways to do this is by harnessing the power of big data. With the help of specialized, patented algorithms paired with expertise from some of the world’s top medical professionals, data-centered companies like MediFind are working hard to reduce the amount of time patients and their families have to spend trying to find the right healthcare solutions.
There are lots of ways that big data can minimize frustration and provide better health outcomes, including the following:
1. Find Experts Faster
Until now, folks have relied mainly on user reviews to find the right doctor for their specific condition. The problem here is that reviews are highly suggestive. Research also shows that there’s no relationship between physician quality and that physician’s online ratings. As a result, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to tell by ratings alone whether a doctor is truly an expert in their field.
By leveraging big data, it’s easier to integrate health information and learn about different physicians. This, in turn, allows patients to access more accurate details about physicians throughout the globe. As a result, people who are searching online for a particular doctor can find out more about who’s available to them and can feel more confident that they’re making the best decision for their specific needs.
2. Get Second Opinions Sooner
It’s not uncommon for healthcare experts to have different views on the most ideal treatment path for their patients. According to the Mayo Clinic, almost 90 percent of patients who seek a second opinion end up with a new or modified diagnosis (2). This is why it’s important to always get a second opinion before making any major treatment decisions.
In a post-COVID-19 world, it’ll be easier to seek second opinions due to the increased popularity of telemedicine. Patients won’t have to spend hours in different waiting rooms trying to talk to a doctor who can give them more insight into their condition.
With telehealth services becoming more robust, it’ll also be easier for patients to connect with other doctors who are experts in their condition. They’ll have more options and more access to those who best understand their needs.
3. Keep Up with The Latest Advances
It’s no secret that medical knowledge rapidly increases day-to-day. More than one million research reports, presentations, and trial results are published each year, and global medical knowledge doubles approximately every 73 days (3). The COVID-19 pandemic is just the latest example of the way new research and trials can influence the landscape and leave everyone scrambling trying to figure out what’s accurate and what isn’t.
By increasing their reliance on robust telehealth platforms, it’ll be easier for patients to stay informed about new treatment options and research that can help them make appropriate health decisions. What’s more, these platforms can translate and simplify terminology. This helps everyone using them to better understand the information they’re consuming and take action as soon as possible.
4. Stay Informed About Clinical Trials
Every year, more than 30,000 new clinical trials are registered across the globe. That’s a 15-fold increase compared to the number of trials registered in the year 2000. This number is growing quickly, too, and will surely continue to grow in the wake of COVID-19 as researchers race to learn more about this condition, potential treatment options, and potential vaccine options.
With the growth of telehealth options throughout the world and the increased use of big data, it’s easier than ever for people to learn about these trials. Staying aware of the opportunities to learn about and try experimental treatments gives people a chance to be more in control of their health and stay abreast of the latest, most cutting edge research that could benefit them and their loved ones.
5. Access A More Accurate Symptom Checker
Proper medical treatment begins with a correct diagnosis. Unfortunately, with more than 7,000 diseases affecting people worldwide, it’s almost impossible for doctors to always administer an accurate diagnosis the first time around. Diagnostic errors are considered to be the “most common, catastrophic, and costly of all medical errors (5). Medical errors are also the third leading cause of death in the United States.
One way to minimize the risk of medical errors is with the use of more sophisticated online symptom checkers. Online symptom checkers have been useful tools for quite some time, but they also are not as accurate as they could be. In response to COVID-19, these tools are getting more accurate. Creators are incorporating AI to analyze symptoms, medical history, and patient characteristics to provide users with a more well-developed list of potential conditions with which they might be suffering.
With the help of online symptom checkers and telehealth platforms, users can learn about possible causes of their symptoms and then track down doctors who are best equipped to help them get to the bottom of those symptoms. Technology will give people an opportunity to be proactive about their health, which is more important than ever during uncertain times such as these.
6. Advocate for Your Own Health
The more opportunities people have to learn about different health conditions, the easier it will be for them to figure out what’s affecting them and contributing to their symptoms. Approximately one in 10 Americans suffer from a rare disease, and the same is true of millions of other people worldwide. Those who live with rare diseases often have to suffer from years of incorrect diagnoses, barrages of complicated medical information, and a dearth of treatment options (which may or may not be effective) on their journey to health and improved quality of life. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it harder for those dealing with chronic health conditions and rare diseases to get the treatment they need. Telehealth can change that, though.
With the help of telemedicine and big data, people with rare and/or chronic diseases can learn more about their conditions and advocate for their own health in more effective ways. Telehealth can do help with this in many ways, including keeping patients safe from potential infections transmitted within offices and also giving them access to the physicians who have the knowledge to treat them, even if they are located in a different part of the world.
Telemedicine Can Help Us Move Forward
In a post-COVID-19 world, patients will likely (and should) start relying more on telehealth. For them to see the best results from working with doctors remotely, they must choose the right telehealth platform.
By registering with and using telemedicine platforms like MediFind -- the world’s first platform that integrates health information from dozens of medical datasets and uses proprietary algorithms and medical experts to translate that information -- we can start to move forward from this pandemic safely while also demanding a higher standard of care for ourselves and those we love.