Health IT Tools That Still Surprise in the Pandemic

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The pandemic has caused turbulence in many industries. However, some of them have managed to stay resilient in this situation of uncertainty, and health IT makes one of those survivors. What’s more, the industry has not just survived but managed to stay in the black. Statista reports, the global digital health market is to hit about $640bn by 2026, growing sixfold at a CAGR of 28.5%.

So how did health IT developers manage to go through the tough period upscaling the market value? Let’s look at the top health IT solutions to figure it out.

Medical portals

This group of tools, which includes patient portals and those for healthcare professionals, is well-known. In the pandemic, their use has increased due to new features powering informed health management and clinical decision-making. Allowing patients and doctors to connect online with no virus exposure risks has played a role in this, too.

Patient portals

Today’s patient portals offer not only good old secure messaging, online visit scheduling, prescription refills, and telemedicine services. Portals are also fully optimized for mobile to allow users to connect anytime and from any location. Nevertheless, these are not all features modern portals have to offer. Many of them have become valid tools for containing the virus spread.

Thanks to the cooperation with health IT developers, some providers have introduced COVID-19-focused chatbots. These user-friendly tools powered by natural language processing are typically available via portals. COVID-focused chatbots may perform a range of functions, from informing patients about the latest news to assessing the likelihood of infection.

As the pandemic turmoil hit the US, patients started to look for credible information on the virus and its prevention. Aiming to assist their patients, UCHealth updated their standing chatbot Livi and synchronized it with reputable sources to deliver valid unbiased information to patients. As a result, patients could ask the chatbot and get the answers they could trust.

Another provider, Providence, made a step forward. When the pandemic reached New York, Grace, their chatbot, started to offer a range of services not only to registered patients but also to occasional users. Grace offers information on COVID-19 as well as a coronavirus risk assessment tool. Asking questions about a user’s location, potential exposure to the virus in one’s recent activities, and more, Grace recommends further actions.

Smart chatbots are not the only handy solutions that enhance patient portals. COVID-19 vaccination makes yet another case for patient portal features, which may include a scheduling assistant with in-built reminders and an educational module to let patients know about the vaccine availability and safety. Offering a follow-up feature to track the state of health of the vaccinated may also be helpful. As providers aim to vaccinate as many people as possible, it makes sense to add a screening tool that checks patients’ eligibility for the procedure and cross-links the vaccine with the drugs they take on a regular basis.

Professional portals

In the present turmoil, portals prove their worth for clinicians, too, as hubs for sharing ideas and experiences regarding valid treatments, prevention strategies, and more. One of such tools is the COVID-19 National Response Portal that aims to cover the entire US territory. This solution makes use of Google technologies to enable providers to share information about the pandemic situation in their region, test results, and the overall number of recovered patients. This may help providers figure out their position on the curve and develop adequate management and prevention strategies relying on real-time data.

Apart from valuable insights, the tool will also provide some operational support. One of its modules will monitor resource utilization, including providers’ need for ICU beds and equipment. This information may facilitate preventing the scarcity of resources or eliminate it swiftly.

Mobile solutions

During the pandemic, mobile technologies have become front-runners in the fight against the virus, with medical mobile apps covering not only users’ needs but also those of clinical research. A recent report by Research And Markets found out that the global mobile medical apps market, estimated at $4.2bn in 2020, will grow five times by 2027 to hit $20.7bn.

Patient-facing solutions

With providers overloaded with the waves of COVID-19-positive patients, many healthy individuals have gone for independent health monitoring. Luckily, mHealth solutions have a lot to offer in this regard.

Seeking to adapt to the new normal, Apple rolled out their Smart Watch Series 6 with specific coronavirus-related functions. The new version of the wearable can measure and track blood oxygen saturation levels. This helps avoid the influx in patients who worry about their health groundlessly and deliver due care to those who really need it without interruptions.

However, symptom monitoring is not the only relevant feature needed today. Experts unanimously add contact tracing and access to reliable up-to-date information to this list.  

Research-centric tools

In the field of COVID-19 research, mobile technologies have found diverse applications, from powering new diagnostic methods and prevention to detecting nutrient combos effective for coronavirus treatment.

In a research by Imperial College London, a virtual supercomputer was made of the combined computational powers of thousands of smartphones donated for research by regular users worldwide. The tool combs through simulations of the molecules of food to find components that may have anti-COVID-19 properties.

Interestingly, volunteers participate passively—the smartphones go through the data while users are asleep. They only need to download the dedicated app and launch it.

The research has yielded some results: the researchers detected anti-viral properties in commonplace products and found a potential in certain non-viral drugs. Now the findings await clinical validation.

Conclusion

As we can see, health IT technologies and very flexible. This quality allows them to successfully adapt to complex scenarios and prove their value to all groups of users. They can serve needed solutions at the right time, which contributes to their steady growth and popularity.

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