Come equipped with the right tools and devices as digital technologies transform healthcare delivery amid the pandemic
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to appropriate the medical frontline in fighting the virus, the rest of the field has transformed significantly, going the digital route to deliver healthcare while keeping contagion at bay.
Telehealth will become the new normal, made possible through the more extensive use of various technologies. For patients, doctor visits can be done virtually now, and there is a range of mobile apps that enable self-triaging and sharing of info, including image scans, besides the usual bevy of health and wellness trackers. Home medical devices have been available and widely used for self-management. In the case of health practitioners, there is greater efficiency, mobility and connectivity via carts, kiosks and kits, and the use of artificial intelligence, augmented and virtual reality and robotics for faster and efficient collection and analysis of medical data.
At the Global Sources Medical & Healthcare online show, three key product categories stood out as representing these current and evolving trends:
- Remote patient monitoring – As an alternative to face-to-face interactions between health professionals and their patients, and to the delivery of medical services in a hospital setting, there are connected mobile medical devices that can be used like consumer electronics to enable telehealth interactions and services. These include a cart with a camera, monitor, stethoscope and other imaging equipment, a mobile ECG unit, a handheld programmed to get responses, a tracker of vital signs, and a scope with A/V recording function. Ordinary webcams, and portable devices such as laptops, tablets and smartphones with a built-in camera and microphone are also employed to get and transmit medical data.
- Thermal imaging or scanning – Noncontact detection of body temperature is a must these days to minimize the spread of viruses. Whether it’s a thermal camera in airports, offices and other public spaces, or a handheld scanner in a mall, doctor’s clinic or school, screening has become the first line of defense in an outbreak. This has become a huge market, which can grow to $7.3 billion by 2027 from $4.1 billion in 2019, according to Fior Markets.
- Health & wellness – Beyond patient care, the COVID-19 pandemic has renewed awareness of overall well-being, leading to behavioral changes that now put greater value on keeping clean, and staying physically and mentally well. As such, there is demand for personal hygiene products, sterilizers, air purifiers and filters, aroma diffusers and massagers. Also part of this trend in homes, hospitals, work spaces and public places is the broader use of masks and other protective equipment.