Often the future isn’t so much about the new technologies that inaugurate its arrival as it is about the shift in attitudes that allowed everything to happen in the first place.
After all, even the best-engineered product will meet a swift end in a brutal market place that is as much about perception as anything else.
In particular, when it comes to medicine, the idea that you can get the same quality care through a different, non-traditional means is one that is having a hard time catching on among patients.
But the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown that it has caused might just usher in the paradigm shift that eHealth and telemedicine need to take center stage and finally displace the traditional route.
At least that is what some analysts are predicting given initial changes in consumer behavior.
Some evidence for this is already being seen on the ground in New York City. One of the hardest-hit areas during the pandemic, the residents of NYC have not shied away from trying new ways to get their medications and health checkups in the era of social distancing and quarantine. Politico credits the explosion in the use of eHealth and telemedicine services to the Trump administration’s relaxation on what agencies can receive Medicare payments as well as other restrictions and privacy regulations.
Many analysts are saying that this isn’t just a temporary move, either, but a complete consumer shift away from going to health centers in-person
In addition to receiving disease testing kits for use at home, condoms, and birth control, among other things, New Yorkers are being encouraged to use telemedicine where applicable for regularly scheduled appointments and checkups. Experts predict that consumers will start to embrace technologies such as automated health units, automated temperature kiosks, and other streamlined health technology without hesitation. The automated temperature kiosks, in particular, present the travel industry and healthcare with a unique way to monitor incoming patient temperatures in a contactless manner.
Politico quotes Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services head Seema Verma who says of the change in patient attitudes, “It seems like it would be not a great thing for our beneficiaries to force them to go back to having in-person visits.”
Currently, the agency is working on modifications to the regulations that would hold back the expansion of eHealth services in an effort to collaborate with both facilities and consumer-needs to achieve a workable future.
Some critics are pointing out that all of this is a bit premature and might even be based upon incorrect notions of what the future of health should be. But proponents of these shifts in the healthcare industry point to the need to build resilience against future pandemics, not simply deal with the current outbreak at hand.
Constructing this infrastructure now will prepare healthcare systems in the future, as well as public and private institutions, for pandemics that force quarantines and lockdowns that are perhaps less economically devastating and total.