Has tech-led remote care reached a tipping point?

The pandemic has accelerated tech delivered remote healthcare. CIOs and tech leaders believe new opportunities will benefit patients and providers.

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Technology-delivered remote healthcare has been held in the waiting room. But like so much in technology in 2020, Coronavirus led to a sudden and rapid adoption of remote healthcare provision. Has the pandemic triggered a tipping point? Will remote care become the norm? Or is there still the need for a deeper diagnosis before the operation takes place? 

“We were not ready in our heads for this as a sector, but now we have been pushed into making that step,” Stefaan Kinderkens, Group Chief Digital and Information Officer at Mediq, a Dutch healthcare provider told me in a MindFuel debate on safeguarding a business during a crisis.  Across the Atlantic CIO Cindy Fedell agrees: “There is definitely an increase in remote care technology.  In an effort to support patients not needing to come into the hospital during COVID-19, clinicians have supplied patients with at-home kit, for example, lung function and heart monitoring.  I believe this uptake will continue.” Fedell has recently become Regional Chief Information Officer at Northwestern Ontario Hospitals in her native Canada.  Across the world healthcare services rapidly adopted remote healthcare technology in order to keep patients safe and protected from the global pandemic. Not only were remote care technologies adopted, but, in common with the wider business community, healthcare organisations took on a course of cloud computing and communications technologies to ensure the smooth operations of their hospitals.

“The public has been there for some time, and it has taken a systemic change like this virus to bring about the cultural change within organisations,” says Nick Hopkinson, CIO for NHS Devon STP of how patients have been keen to adopt new ways of being cared for.  “We have seen a significant shift in primary care to non face-to-face services,” he adds. Spaniard Senai Jimenez, Head of IT programmes and projects at Kings College Hospital, London agrees with Hopkinson: “I think we will see more and more remote care, but tipping point? That point had already happened, but post-Covid we will see a review and refinement of the services.

“Covid will not let you say that you are not very techie. Everyone has become more IT literate,” she says of the internal cultural adoption that took place during the first global lockdown. “Remote care adoption is growing across Europe and the USA,” says Kenny Bloxham, MD of Healthcare Communications, a patient messaging services provider to 360 hospitals in the UK. 

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