The use of tech to empower us to make healthier decisions and improve our overall well-being is only going to grow. Picture : Pexels / Cottonbro
The use of tech to empower us to make healthier decisions and improve our overall well-being is only going to grow. Picture : Pexels / Cottonbro

4 health innovations sparked by Covid-19

By Viwe Ndongeni-Ntlebi Time of article published Jun 6, 2021

Share this article:

The pandemic has changed how we work, learn and interact as physical distancing guidelines have led to a more virtual existence, both personally and professionally. This has led to endless innovation to try and navigate through the new way.

The healthcare industry has long been ripe for innovation, and the pandemic has served as a powerful catalyst.

Research from McKinsey found that 90% of healthcare executives believe Covid-19 will fundamentally change their businesses, and 85% predict lasting changes to customers’ preferences.

And while this pandemic has decimated many industries, it has also caused countless businesses to innovate, most notably in the medical and health industries.

Fedhealth gives us some of the health innovations witnessed over the past year in the medical fields:

Virtual consultations

Our work meetings have gone from in-person to online. Even birthday parties and quiz nights with friends are now done through our screens. And while it can never replicate the real thing, there are some processes that can be concluded very effectively online – including GP consultations for less serious matters.

From the NHS in the United Kingdom to doctors’ surgeries here in SA, many medical professionals have turned to phone calls, online messaging and video conferencing to diagnose problems, write up prescriptions and provide care. This protects both patients and healthcare providers from Covid-19 risks, and in some cases also provides time-saving benefits, allowing doctors to service more patients.

Care at home

Although hospitals have their advantages, they’re not always the best environment for everyone. In fact, research shows that patients recover better and faster in their own homes – resulting in improved outcomes and less demand on critical hospital resources, especially during Covid times.

Because of this, some medical aids added “hospital at home” as a service, giving suitable patients a team of trained healthcare professionals who bring all the essential elements of in-patient care to a patient’s home, including real-time monitoring. This frees up resources and skills in hospitals for those who need it most.

Wearable tech

Whether it’s telling us to get up and move around, or reminding us that we need to go to sleep right now, we’ve been wearing tech on our wrists to help with our health goals for a while now. But this pandemic has offered an opportunity to take this even further by giving health professionals the chance to track analytics like our heart rates, temperature and other biometrics, helping predict certain conditions (including Covid) before we even exhibit symptoms.

While this is great progress, it’s worth noting that these devices are generally worn by an already healthy and active minority, typically affluent and slightly younger – so it’s not an inclusive solution to disease prevention.

Masks and sanitiser

You may not think of these as ‘innovations’, but think how quickly we’ve all adapted to wearing masks when leaving the house and getting on public transport like cabs, buses and trains. Remember how after a flight (pre-Covid) you often used to catch a cold because of all the germs you were exposed to on the plane?

Mask wearing while travelling may become our new normal after Covid, just as hand washing and sanitiser have become much more regular parts of our lives – improving our hygiene overall. The fashion industry has responded to this by making masks part of their design output, and even perfume houses like Dior have started making sanitiser for French hospitals. Collaboration has thus been a positive spin off of this pandemic – with organisations working together to try and limit the spread of this disease.

While innovations should be celebrated, it’s too soon to tell how these changes in how we monitor and manage our health will impact us in the long-term. That’s why it’s important to still keep on top of your health and make an appointment with a healthcare provider if you have any concerns.

Share this article: